Friday

Meet ClaraBelle

MaYbe sNoW isn't so bad after all...

Enjoying our vacation... in the snow.

Holiday greetings to all of you!
Sorry we've been out of touch -- but we've been enjoying a very lovely vacation together.

First, we celebrated the holidays with each of our families (Paul's fam on the 23rd, and mine on the 24th). Then, we had a crew at our house for a prime rib dinner on Christmas Day (yeah, yum)... with Frozen Grand Marnier torte for dessert.

We must confess that we ventured out and did a bit of shopping on "Boxing Day"... No, we didn't go boxing, as you might expect, though that might most aptly describe our approach to dealing with the crowds during the early part of the day. We did get some good deals (mostly on Christmas for NEXT year), so we can't complain too much.

Now that all the excitement is over, we're lying back in our comfy clothes and enjoying some good old fashioned R&R. At the moment, it's snowing like CRAZY outside. So, we've got a bit of that snuggly "snowed in" feeling going on.

Here's a shot of what our yard looks like out there right now:

We're trying not to think about the fact that we'll have to head on outside later on today to shovel up all that beautiful white stuff.



Lo's making her famous lazy day chicken & dumplings for dinner tonight. So, earlier today, we roasted a chicken. And now there's a pot of chicken stock brewing on the stove. Smells delish.

We're debating whether or not it will ever be necessary to leave the house again.

Tuesday

And the winner is....

The broccoli and red pepper chowder!

Yes, that's official.
We've counted (and recounted) the ballots. And the chowder won solidly by two votes. There did NOT appear to be any stuffing of the ballot box. Or other foul play. Sorry, Peter -- the chili really only got three votes. There really was no hope.

If you didn't have the chance to sample the broccoli chowder at our December soup night, you might consider stopping by on April 6th for the encore performance. It really was quite tasty.

And don't forget to join us on January 13th -- when you can vote for the next winning soup!

Monday

Snowy Days and Soupy Nights

You'll be VERY excited to know that Milwaukee got socked with snow AGAIN this weekend, so there is little doubt that we'll be celebrating a white Christmas this year. Our backs are a little bit sore, and our roads are a little bit slurky. But, overall, we can't complain... too much.

Plus, we're very pleased to announce that Soup Night KICKOFF event was a success! Fifteen souls braved the cold to slurp soup at our place. And we had an awesome time. Thanks to everyone for showing up and bringing sides (and wines) to pass!
The evening featured three soups:
Guests were asked to vote for their favorite soup, and we'll be announcing the winner RIGHT HERE on our blog sometime this week. (Winning soups from each soup night will return for an encore performance during our final soup night in April).

For today, we can tell you that the Black Bean Chili DID NOT win.

And we will remind you that our next soup night will be held on Sunday, January 13th! So, mark your calendars...

Friday

Wishwish Tree hunting

Last night Lo and I braved the bitter cold to find our Wishwish Tree (you might be more familiar with it being a Christmas Tree, but Lo likes to create new names for things and I play along).

Here it is.

And the self portrait...
The tree is behind us. Trust me.

Tonight, we decorate. And try to convince the cats that it really isn't so weird to have a piece of nature in the house.

Thursday

"The Spattering 2008"

I'm pleased to announce that we'll be holding our very first Soup Night with Peef & Lo on Sunday, December 16th.

Soup Nights are a concept that have been brewing in my brain for a couple of years now, and I'm pleased to say that they'll finally be coming to fruition.

The idea came out of a notion that I'd like to create more community within our families and among our friends & neighbors -- to unify some of the disparate groups that make up our circle of acquaintances. So, we've invited just about everyone we know to come over once a month (January through April) for a "soup night". There is no obligation (and no RSVP's required), although participants are encouraged to bring something to accompany the soup.

Be sure to stop by if you're in our neighborhood!
The Burp! kitchen opens at 4:30pm!

Wednesday

the not-so-cheery cherry weekend

Some of you have received sweet holiday treats from the Peef and Lo household. If that's the case, you are probably aware that December is Chocolate Covered Cherry Season! This past weekend was ear-marked on our calendar, and the plan was to devote our time to making these highly sought-after treats.
As life would often have it, the weekend did not end up quite as planned...

Saturday morning...I got busy chopping 12 pounds of chocolate, while Lo geared up the mixer to whip up batches and batches of fondant. We'd just finished luring the cherries from their brandy-soaking spa, patted them dry, and prepped them for their fondant wrap and chocolate dip. Everything was going as planned. And then 11 o'clock happened.

Lo decided that, while the fondant firmed up in the fridge, we should put together a list of all the lucky recipients who would be receiving holiday tins of cherries. Great idea, right? Well, as she was sitting in front of the computer compiling the list, she kept pausing, complaining that she wasn't able to focus her eyes properly because there were spots on the screen. I figured that the sunlight was shining too brightly through the window, so I closed the shade to help reduce the glare. Unfortunately, that didn't do the trick.

Instead, the worstest thing ever happened. Lo's right arm started to get tingly. This is NEVER a good sign for Lo. You see, a tingly right arm usually means that she is getting a migraine. And what a migraine it was! Lo ended up lying flat on her back on the couch for the remainder of the day. No cherry dipping for her!

Sunday, Lo was still hurting; but, she was a trooper and finished what we had started. We started at about 10am, and by about 7:30pm Sunday night, all the cherries had been finished. Peef's chocolate melting hands were sore, and Lo's dipping skills were spent. It was quite the weekend!

So, as you take a bite into those little booze-alicious sweets, say a little *thanks* to the girl that fought the pain to get those into your hands this year. She really is pretty fantastic, that Lo!

Tuesday

SNOW DAY!

Well -- almost every school in the Milwaukee area has called off classes for today. Apparently the university where I work doesn't BELIEVE in calling snow days during exam week (and maybe I don't blame them). But, judging from the picturesque scene outside of my office window, today IS a snow day through and through.

This weather pattern will make headlines as the ice storm that's wrapping its way across the Midwest. Power lines are down in Oklahoma. Missouri has declared a state of emergency. And... it's winter as usual here in Wisconsin.

I'm hoping we DON'T get the ice that is predicted for later on this afternoon. I don't mind snow. But, I can't abide the thought of driving around in the ice.

In any case, I'm considering the possibility of taking a snow day. Right about now, I'd be happy to head home, pour myself a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy the scenery from inside.

Friday

The long awaited photos from the November BBBBB

You've been patient, dear readers. And now, you will be rewarded.
I present -- the BBBBB! In technicolor!

First -- here's the whole clan. Don't we look happy???

And here are some friends we met along the way.

They were SO fun, we decided to take them bowling with us.

The group became frustrated by the sheer SIZE of the beers...

But they were completely enamoured when they caught sight of a big, luscious hamburger!!

And...after a long night of boozing, bowling, and bounding, we headed home to bed.

The End.

Thursday

Random Facts about the Lo

While you're waiting for us to post our ever-so-exciting pictures of BBBBB (yes, we're unusually slow this week; and we apologise! I promise they'll be worth the wait)... I thought you might be amused with some random facts about Lo. This post was inspired by a recent post on Jess' blog.

  1. Accent: According to this poll, I am a product of my environment: The Inland North accent. You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" The truth is, I DON'T get those questions (although people sometimes assume I'm from the south)... but let's leave "well enough" alone.
  2. Book: I've started (and not finished) a number of books. I'm reading The Ominivore's Dilemma (Pollan), I'm most of the way through Sting's autobiography, I've started a book called A Certain Slant of Light (Whitcomb), and I am almost ready to start The Kite Runner (Hosseini).
  3. Chore I Hate: scrubbing floors (I should do this more often than I do)
  4. Dad's Name: Wally
  5. Essential Electronic: Computer
  6. Favorite Meal: I know this is cliche -- but I could eat some variation of pizza every day.
  7. Gold or Silver: Platinum?? I know I'm supposed to have a preference here, but I don't. I'm sure one is more appropriate for my complexion (probably silver); but, for me the jury is still out.
  8. Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
  9. Insomnia: almost never
  10. Job Titlez: :) writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener, and girlwonder
  11. Kids: I absolutely LOVE babies, but can appreciate kids.
  12. Living Arrangements: In an adorable Milwaukee bungalow with the Peef and our 4 kittenses.
  13. Mom's Birthplace: Iowa (a very tiny town that I can pronounce, but probably can't spell)
  14. Number of Apples Eaten in Last Week: Probably 3-4
  15. Overnight Hospital Stays: The last time I spent the night in a hospital was when I was born!
  16. Pets: How do I feel about them? Well, I like fuzzy creatures, if that's not obvious.
  17. Question I Ask Myself Quite Often: "What should I make for dinner?"
  18. Religious Affiliation: Lutheran (my opinions about this have changed over the years, but the general idea has stuck)
  19. Siblings: a younger sister, and a younger brother
  20. Time I Wake Up: I wake up between 5-6:30am on weekdays (with an alarm), and between 7:30-9am on weekends (without an alarm)
  21. Unusual Talent or Skill: I am phenomenally good at deciphering bad handwriting.
  22. Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: I've never met a veggie that I didn't want to eat.
  23. Worst Habit: Worrying
  24. X-rays: teeth and left foot
  25. Yummy Food I Make: can't it ALL be yummy?? :) (ok... ok... I think peef would agree that I have a "way" with marinara/tomato sauces)
  26. Zodiac Sign: Libra (and yes, I fit the mold)

Wednesday

Buy Local - Milwaukee

If you live in the area, and haven't finished up your Christmas Shopping (or even if you need to run out to pick up a few necessities)... I just want to put in a plug for this weekend's BUY LOCAL event.

On December 8th and 9th, you're encouraged to BUY LOCALLY (start with the list of local independent businesses on the Our Milwaukee site).

REMEMBER:
  • For every $1 you spend at a locally owned business, more than $0.68 remains in Milwaukee.
  • Buying locally creates a stronger, more sustainable community of independent businesses.

Snowed in.

More news!
Both Peef and Lo are the proud owners of a VERY white urban landscape, and VERY sore backs.

Yes, we're getting our first dose of winter here in Wisconsin. And it hasn't been pretty. Rather, it HAS been quite lovely -- but it has also been messy. And somewhat treacherous. It also means that we're spending all of our perfectly good blogging time shoveling ourselves out!

I'm sure all of you are wondering how our Bowling, beers, babes, the Boy, and BBQ (BBBBB) event came out... and we apologise for not logging on over the weekend to give you the scoop. We actually have lots of fun photos to share... just as soon as we can upload them from our camera (this is Peef's job -- so we'll let him handle that part).

The fact of the matter is, we had a fabulous time. The babes were babes, and the Boy was ... well, a boy!

We ended up dining at Palomino in Bay View -- which, if any of you are familiar, features all sorts of delicacies (many of them VEGAN)! In keeping with the BBQ theme, Lo sampled the vegan riblets sandwich, and Michelle sampled their barbequed seitan sammich, which she declared to be quite tasty (for wheat meat). Rebecca and Peef departed from the theme a bit by ordering burgers. But, we forgave them that iniquity because they partook in the delicous platter of "Tofulo wings" -- fried tofu slathered in painfully spicy sauce. Oh, yes -- and everyone enjoyed a beer or two (most of us had at least one glass of Great Lakes Nasferatu... a lovely, seasonal, American Strong Ale that we look forward to the whole year through. Palomino just HAPPENS to have it on tap.

After dinner, we headed on over to the bowling alley, where we tackled a few games. There were a few strikes, quite a number of spares, and a great deal of celebrating when we broke a score above "100". No, we're not professional bowlers. But, we sure do have a lot of fun.

The event was the PERFECT antidote for a less than perfect week. And what more can you ask of a BBBBB event?

Now -- if you'll pardon us, it's back to our regularly scheduled shoveling.

Thursday

Dichotomies on a bad day

I am not having a very lovely day, so I've decided it would be a good exercise to blog for a bit. I've read all the stories about employees who have been fired for blogging ABOUT work. So, I'd like to make it very clear that this has NOTHING to do with my job.

LOVELY: the view from my window (complete with be-twigged trees, berry-strewn bushes, and what remains of the green autumn grass)
REPUGNANT: the filth on the glass that makes everything look just a bit too dingy

OK, wait... it sucks to END every thought with the negative. Let's flip this on end.

REPUGNANT: the robotic impulse
LOVELY: the human element

REPUGNANT: the same old schtick
LOVELY: a new day

REPUGNANT: the fact that I am not content with my current circumstances
LOVELY: the freedom to make new choices

REPUGNANT: wallowing in the mire
LOVELY: turning everything upside-down

VERY LOVELY: Tomorrow night's BBBBB activity: Bowling, beers, babes, the Boy, and BBQ!! (a BBBBB always seems to rectify a bad week so very nicely)

Wednesday

9 years!

How do Peef and Lo celebrate Nine Years of wedded bliss ... ?
With wine, cheese, some bread and a bit of homemade creamy tomato soup, of course!

After all the entertaining this past week, it has been some work to get inspired to cook up something fantastic. As it turns out, sometimes the simplest things make for the best meals.

We made (basil enhanced) brie, tomato, avocado sammiches on some loverly olive focaccia bread. We finished the night with a pint of Fat Daddy. (aka, Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby).
Lo...after 9 wonderful years, I can't think of a better person to be spending my days with.



Monday

The Baby. It has taken over the blog.

OK, not totally.
But here are a couple of select portraits that we thought you might appreciate :)



We'd also like to report that the baby is NOT perfect, as we first presumed. She has very long fingers (just take a look at the first picture we posted). And very big feet. Which we're not going to show you.


Friday

Thanks for Babies

Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch!
AND -- amid the Thanksgiving festivities, Peef and Lo became an Aunt and Uncle again!
She was born just before 10am.

Behold - the Thanksgiving Baby!
Reagan Rae Gosa
(8.1 lbs, 20 inches long -- and cute as a button)

Wednesday

PROcrastinating.

So, the morning is passing, and I haven't gotten a thing done.
The sink is filled with dirty dishes, waiting to be washed. But, what am I doing? Blogging. *blush*

My TO DO list:
  1. Finish dishes
  2. Dry french bread for stuffing
  3. par-boil and peel pearl onions
  4. cook bacon
  5. chop vegetables
  6. caramelize onions
  7. compose the spinach gratin
  8. clean up kitchen
  9. locate table linens
  10. haul out china
  11. make another list of things to do tomorrow
I'm wearing my apron.
Does that count?

Pre-Thanksgiving Events

The day before Thanksgiving is supposed to be a whirlwind, right?

Ours started off with an excitable 5am phone call. Everyone was jazzed because it seemed as if Keri's baby was finally on her way (Reagan was due to arrive on November 18th... but she seemed to be enjoying herself in there too much to join us). We held our breath in anticipation for a few hours hours... to find that pre-term labor had set in. So, we're hanging tight and praying for that Thanksgiving baby.

While she's waiting, Lo figures she'll make preparations for Thanksgiving. After all, there is bread to dry for the stuffing, pearl onions to blanch, and spinach gratin to prepare. The turkey has been brining happily since yesterday, so that won't require much attention until this evening, when we'll take it out of the brine to "cure" it in the fridge.

Peef headed off to work this morning, and he'll probably hang out there until closing time, when he'll come home and we'll head off to our annual Thanksgiving service -- where we'll reflect on all the things for which we're thankful.

Not a bad day, right?

And there was light!

We are the proud new owners of a BRAND NEW chandelier.
How exciting, yes?

It is, indeed, exciting. And it should have been a simple matter of replacing the old, worn-out light fixture with something new and exciting. But, nay... as life would have it, there is a STORY to tell.

Travel with us back in time -- to last Christmas -- when we were the gracious recipients of a number of generous monetary donations. Recall with us how we took those generous donations and decided to put them toward the purchase of a lovely new light fixture for our dining room.

Now, to give a bit of background, we live in a 1920's bungalow. So, our dining room really is a lovely place. We have built-in china cabinets, and lovely woodwork. We have a tray ceiling, and a domed doorway which leads from the dining room into the living room. The ONE piece of the dining room that is NOT lovely is the light fixture, which happens to be a 1980's vintage ceiling fan (with light kit) complete with lovely caning detail on the fan blades! We probably don't need to tell you how excited we were by the prospect of a new fixture!

Anyhow -- we managed to find a lovely wrought iron chandelier (by Quoizel) with iced glass lamp shades and a leaf motif.

It was PERFECT! And, it happened to be on sale. So, we scooped it up and took it home with us. We planned to install it just as soon as we had a free moment.

Well, during that free moment, we discovered that the electricity in our lovely dining room was NOT up to code. And there was NO WAY that big chandelier was going to have enough support to hang from the dining room ceiling the way things were. SO, we needed a plan B.

Plan B consisted of having our electrical redone when we proceeded with our upstairs bathroom rennovation. Now, as a loyal reader, you know that we CRASHED our beloved Isuzu in August, and so the bathroom remodel was post-poned.

Ergo, we moved on to PLAN C. Plan C consisted of having an independent electrician come and take a look at our situation and propose a solution. As luck would have it, Plan C was postponed for a number of months so that we could get our finances back in order and determine what was really affordable.

BUT FINALLY, this very week, we have moved forward. Plan C was enacted. And successfully so. Celebrate with us, for we have been enlightened!

Monday

Snip. Snap. All better again.

Well -- thanks for all the healing thoughts and well wishes! They worked. Happily, the cold turned out to be a nice, ordinary 5-day variety. And, after a bit of R&R on the weekend, I'm quite nearly good-as-new again! Which is very good insofar as Peef is concerned.

As we look forward to the week ahead, it's a good thing that we're both back in good health. Cuz it's going to be a wild one. Tonight we have a bunch of errands to run after work (provided we don't decide to attend this event at Marquette --which will impact that plan a bit). Tuesday, we have an electrician coming over to our place to give us an estimate on a couple of things we've been wanting to have done (an update to our electrical in the dining room & a new outlet in the kitchen). Wednesday looks clear (so far); but we're setting aside a number of evenings this week to begin prepping, planning, and shopping for our Thanksgiving feast and subsequent Thanksgiving Saturday brunch, which is a tradition at our house.

ORDINARILY, Peef and I take "off" for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's in close proximity (most years) to our wedding anniversary, so we've gotten in the habit of setting aside this holiday as our own time. We've been known to hole up at home for the holiday; but, we've also been known to run off to Fargo to visit our friends Jeremy & Rebecca (and their lovely family). This year, we've volunteered to host the holiday for Peef's parents, his grandparents, and his aunt. Kind of an exciting prospect. But, it does mean that we've got to get down to business sooner than later.

So, we've got two menus to plan. Fun, fun, fun!

Friday

Sniff. Snarf. Lo's got a cold.

Lo is NOT a good sick person. Just ask Peef.
When Lo gets sick, her head swells up to sixty-four times its size, and she is INTOLERABLE.

Today marks day 3 of Lo's first cold of the season. Peef appreciates any healing vibes that you could send her way!

Reflections on a CrockPot Disaster

The crockpot.
Brilliant cooking tool? Or big fat farce?

As a person who is not particularly fond of crockpot meals, you might be tempted to blow my story off as the ramblings of a severely biased soul. But, the tale must be told.

In the early morning hours, Peef took the upper hand. He layered tomato sauce, red and green peppers, garlic, and chicken hindquarters into the crockpot. The mess looked (and even smelled) quite lovely. He plopped on the glass cover, and set the crockpot to cook for 8 hours on low heat.

We were encouraged by the lovely smell that emanated from the kitchen when we both returned from work that evening. Even a look into the pot revealed a deep red sauce, and delicate hints of caramelization around the periphery of the crockpot -- a good sign that the flavors had melded into a Thing of Beauty.

But, it was not to be so.
We left the crockpot on warm and proceeded to prepare a batch of whole wheat penne to accompany the cacciatore. That accomplished, we removed the meltingly tender chicken from the pot, nestling it into a bed of pasta. Atop the chicken, we spooned the delicious-looking red sauce.

We carried our bowls of steaming cacciatore to the other room, mouthed a prayer of thanks, and then lifted our forks to our mouths in great anticipation.

The Expectation: a delightful (and effortless) chicken cacciatore
The Reality: a mealy mass of chicken in a flavorless red sauce

I can say, with a great deal of honesty, that I have not experienced a meal SO flavorless, SO utterly disappointing, in a VERY long time. Peef mumbled something to me about it being "not so bad" while I resisted my urge to get up, right then, and march into the kitchen to retrieve a grilled cheese sandwich. We spent the rest of the meal swallowing in silence.

How much can we blame on the crockpot?
I'm not exactly sure. One thing is for sure. Cacciatore in our house will never again be prepared anywhere but on a proper stovetop! Or maybe in an oven...

Now it's your turn to talk back.
How IS it that a crockpot can do such evil things to otherwise fine food??

Wednesday

Halloween at Work!

If you thought that work was all seriousness and productivity, think again. Here's Paul hamming it up with his colleague, Chris, in their "All Hal's Eve" get-up.




Tuesday

Baby Shower Weekend

Lo's sister, Keri, is having a baby. A girl sortofa baby. In November. And her name will be Reagan. I'm not sure we've shared the news with you before now. But, it's an important detail. Especially since we're about to tell you about a baby shower.

Now, Lo has been secretly planning this baby shower for her for quite some time. However, since it was supposed to be a big surprise, we couldn't share it with you here until it had come and gone. Now is that time.

The shower was scheduled for Saturday (October 27th), and it would be held at Lo's parents brand new house. Since much preparation was needed, both Peef and Lo took off of work and they set out to Kewaskum bright and early on Friday morning. With help from Lo's mom, Peef and Lo spent the day cooking and decorating. Lo baked and frosted almost 80 cupcakes (also 93 mini cream puffs, 125 cinnamon rolls, dips, spreads, and all sorts of goodies). After the cooking was completed, the team decorated the whole house with ribbons, flowers, helium balloons, and darling little onesies. Lo's grandmother pitched in by arranging flowers. And Lo set up an "art station" with fabric paints, white burp cloths, t-shirts, and onesies for decorating.

By 10:30am on Saturday, we were ready to roll. We'd prepped everything, decorated the house, and laid out platters of fruits, vegetables, crackers, and spreads on the buffet table. Lo drove off to pick up Keri. And Paul manned the ovens, reheating the spanikopita, mini quiches, and meatballs. Guests began to arrive around 11am, and the shower went off without a hitch.
We're VERY pleased to report that everyone seemed to have a very good time, including Keri -- who also received a very nice supply of baby diapers, clothing, and other necessities (including a car seat -- which will be integral to getting little Reagan HOME after she's born!).

Thanks to EVERYONE for making this event a success! And double to those of you who had to keep it a secret!!

Thursday

Cookies for a Cause

So, I ran across the concept for a "Drop In And Decorate" party today, and I thought I'd share. Seems like the idea of decorating cookies for charity is a pretty good one. And I applaud good old King Arthur for their philanthropy.

Gosh, this concept sounds like a load of fun.
Unfortunately, right now, we're crazy-busy at our house. And I'm in the midst of planning out a "soup night" concept for this winter (more on that later). So, I'm going to file the cookie party idea for a later date. Maybe one of you will beat me to it (which would be great)! Be sure to invite me!

Tuesday

The BBBBB - Beers, Broads, Burgers and Billiards... and a BOY

Friday night marked the first official BBBBB event -- Beer, Broads, Burgers, Billiards... and a BOY (my good friend Rebecca pointed out the Paul needed somewhere to fit into the picture)!
Attending: Peef (the Boy), Lo, Rebecca, and Michelle (the Broads)


The event kicked off with a visit to our VERY FAVORITE Lakefront Brewery for their environmental brewery tour. When we arrived, we were whisked off into the magical world of "green brewing" -- which included tales of locally grown organic hops and various elements of "green certification" (Lakefront was the first brewery in the nation to be certified green).

Along the way, we partook in a variety of Lakefront beers -- sampling Eastside Dark, Riverwest Stein, Pumpkin Lager, and a small host of others (observe the lovely tappers above). We also got the chance to climb up inside the infamous chalet that used to be home to "Bernie Brewer," Milwaukee Brewers mascot (see Peef and Lo below). Bernie was a beloved fixture at the old Milwaukee County Stadium. Following each Brewers' homer, he would slide down from his chalet and plunge himself into a huge beer mug to celebrate the victory!

Having completed our tour, Rebecca declared it "The Best Brewery Tour EVER!" And we all concurred.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at one of our favorite little spots - Trocadero, where two of the Broads, Rebecca and Lori, ate the prerequisite burgers (turkey burgers, complete with black pepper boursin -- YUM), and everyone drank a bit more beer. Then, we headed off for an evening of pool (er, Billiards) at Rebecca & Michelle's place (complete with a bit of beer sampling)! One of the beers we sampled came from the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Brewery in Michigan. We mistook it for a pumpkin ale (thanks to the Jolly Pumpkin label)... and were surprised to find it was, instead, Bam Bière... a funny little dry-hopped ale that we all agreed was, er, "different."

Despite that one (tiny) foible, a Good Time (capital G, capital T) was had by all, and the event was declared a success.

Thursday

Meatloaf Appreciation Day!

And here we are -- smack dab in the middle of Meatloaf Appreciation Day! We were sad to realize that we missed the deadline to participate in Serious Eats Meatloaf Appreciation Day celebration. But, we wanted you to know that we made a meatloaf last night... in the SPIRIT of the day.

It's our favorite meatloaf -- with turkey, apples, and thyme. And, if that didn't sound good enough all by itself, it's served with a lovely shiitake mushroom gravy. Read about that very LOAF at Burp!

Tuesday

Birthday on the Bayou

I wanted to do something special for Lo's birthday dinner, since (overall) I believe myself to be a fairly nice husband. I was running out of ideas, when the phone rang. It was Lo, calling to tell me that her parents decided that THEY would like to take her out for her birthday. I was saved!

After some conversation about where we might GO for dinner, Lo's exceedingly thoughtful parents drove down from their pad in Kewaskum, and we ventured out to Bayou, a quaint cajun/creole joint overlooking the Milwaukee River.

The evening started off with Fried Green Tomatoes (Lo's one wish) and Crab Cakes (Lo's mom's favorite). The crab cakes were fairly good. But, the green tomatoes were the hands-down winner, breaded thoroughly, fried to crisp perfection, and seasoned with just a HINT of cinnamon. They were served with a cajun remoulade that complemented perfectly.

For dinner, Lo ordered Jambalaya, and I had the Panko Crusted Ahi Tuna (one of the night's specials). Mom had the Grilled Salmon Cake & Shrimp and Dad had creole meatloaf stuffed with spinach and oysters (the other special for the evening). Everyone enjoyed their main courses, the only complaint being that the shrimp in Lo's jambalaya seemed just a hair too "shrimpy" for her taste -- indicating they may not have been as fresh as fresh could be. Considering Milwaukee's Midwestern locale along witht he fact that it was a Monday night, I am guessing the shrimp were leftover from the weekend.

The night ended with a FABULOUS array of well-executed desserts. And, if I chose one reason to return to Bayou in the future, this would be IT. Lo relished the Pecan Pie with homemade Sweet Potato ice cream, Mom had some booze flavored Creme Brulee, and Dad had the Key Lime pie. I had the Banana Bread Pudding with Vanilla Custard (also homemade) and a rum sauce. Our waitress told us that all items were made in-house -- and that fact became obvious as we sampled. Each dessert was exquisite -- a symphony of flavors and textures.

The atmosphere at Bayou is pleasant. A bit dark, perhaps, but definitely pleasant. The dining room has a view of the river -- and the patio seating makes me think this is a place we might wish to return to when the weather is a bit balmier. The modern decor is Jetsonesque, with some distinct signs of an Asian influence (think Japanese lanterns with modern architectural flair). Prices were on the higher side for entrees (and drinks from the bar were OFF the map). But, the wine list was reasonably priced, and our dessert experience more than made up for the bit of sticker shock at the end of the meal.

Overall, Bayou gets a thumb's up from this gator.

Monday

Weekend happenings and getting older

Lo's Birthday week (yes week...there is no way you can get everything done in a day anymore) is underway, and this is what we have been up to...

Friday night we went out with a couple of friends Rebecca and Michelle to a fantastic little joint called Comet Cafe. It's a half bar/half diner atmosphere and a favorite spot for Lo and I to frequent. Lo had the veggie gyro and I had the breaded chicken with buttermilk taters and ginger broccoli. Michelle had the seared tuna sandwich and Rebecca enjoyed the cheesy beef roast sandwich. If you get a chance to go, I would recommend the mac and cheese.

Saturday we spent the morning in bed. Before you go thinking that we stayed out too late, the truth is that I was not wanting to turn the heat on and the air outside of bed seemed threatening. So, it was nice and warm just hanging out under the covers. When we finally decided that we can't waste much more of our morning, and that the cold would not be the end of us, we got up and went to the farmer's market (bought a TON of squash from a funny little farm that offers a "blue light special" at the end of every summer -- fill up a blue bag and pay only $8. Our bag was almost splitting at the seams!) We then made our way up to Mequon to pick some apples and some pumpkins. After about 5 minutes into picking apples, it dawned on us that we forgot our camera...so, no pix. Sorry. We promise to be better at taking our camera with us in the future. (!!!)

Saturday evening, we made our way over to Izumi's and ordered some sushi. Typically, I do the ordering and call it in and we pick it up. Tonight, however, we decided to just go in and order and wait for it. It was close to 7 pm, so parking was limited. I told Lo to just hop out and order, and I would drive around and find a spot and then meet her in the restaurant. I drove around the block all of once and landed a sweet spot just around the corner. I walk in and see Lori's mouth drop open. She turns to me and says "I don't know what I just did?" The woman rang up everything I ordered, and it seemed a bit higher than normal. So I asked what she ordered. Spicy tuna, eel, the sashimi appetizer...everything seemed to be right. Then she proceeded to tell me that she ordered 2 of most things. Well that would explain it! Needless to say, there was no fear of going hungry that night. There was PLENTY of sushi to go around.

Sunday we decided to do healthy brunch at home and then make salmon for dinner. Lo (silly Lo!) had scheduled her annual doctor's appointment for Monday morning; so, she was looking forward to a fast for her cholesterol screening. The whole idea behind eating healthy on Sunday was that we would eat something not so bad so maybe the test would be not so bad as well. Brunch included fantastic "field meat" sausages and eggs with spinach and almond "cheddar style" cheese. As we were cooking, I declared that if we need to become vegan for health reasons, I would do it. Lo smirked. We ended up deciding that it might be a good thing to go a month as vegetarians because we are not sure that vegan is right for us completely. And if I can quickly comment on almond "cheddar style" cheese, it shreds wonderfully and melts great just like the package says. The one thing that the package does not address is the lack of cheddar style cheese flavor. In with the spinach and eggs there just did not seem to be a nice cheddar aroma or flavor. What I did like was that there was no noticeable "fake cheese" flavor or texture which is sometimes the case with non-dairy cheese. Regardless, this was our first adventure using almond cheese, and probably will not be our last.

Now...where was I? Oh yes, brunch. And then after brunch there was the Sunday Paper Reading. This is where Lo and I go through the Sunday paper and read the 4 sections that we like (Entree, Cue, Metro, Comics, and sometimes the Real Estate section just to see what houses are selling for in our area...). We also go through some of the advertisements that clutter the paper. This time it was Boston Store. And this time it was announcing that today is the last day for Capacity Days. Lo has been secretly needing some retail therapy, but with the new car and other financial crunches, the traditional "Take Lo Shopping for Her Birthday" seemed bleak. Until we decided that maybe we could just go and spend the rainy afternoon there. You know...just to look. :) So, we went and looked. She found some nice basic jackets and a couple of shirts for work which will replace those that have now been discarded from the closet and are waiting to be taken to Goodwill.

The birthday week continues tonight with a fantastic meal that we will discuss at a later date. For now...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LO!

Friday

It's CHEESE, Grommit!

OOOh. Now, here is something about which Peef and Lo can get excited! Artisanal cheese!

Our local co-op has a very nice selection of cheeses made by local artisans... and, of course, our local (but evil) Whole Foods has a nice offering as well. But, this store sounds like a place where we'll have to visit the next time we're in the Madison area. With a name like Fromagination, who could possibly resist??

Speaking of cheese -- Lo is going to the doctor on Monday. And she will be undergoing a cholesterol screening. Despite the fact that her numbers came out JUST FINE in 2005, she's a bit nervous. After all, she does love her cheese...

Wednesday

Empty Bowls

Although it's not looking good, I am really hoping that we can rework our schedule so that we can participate in Empty Bowls this year. Such a fantastic program -- and the largest Public Empty Bowls event in the U.S. to boot.

Here's the concept: Through the commitment and services of community volunteers, artists and restaurants, and the sale of handcrafted ceramic bowls, soups and breads, the Milwaukee Empty Bowls annual fund-raising event is dedicated to supporting local food and hunger programs.

Tuesday

Paper Back Issues: News From Peef And Lo

For those of you who might be interested, I've put together an archive of the "News from Peef and Lo" newsletter, which used to be delivered quarterly, in paper form.

Check it out at http://peefandlo.googlepages.com/home

The Amazing Towering Rosebush

And now, it's time for another episode of Living Myths With Peef & Lo.
This installment features a happy abberation -- the miraculous 8 foot rose bush, which graces the flower garden in front of Peef & Lo's home.

We planted this particular rose about two years ago. It behaved in a perfectly normal fashion until about September of this year. That's when it had a remarkable growth spurt.

We've taken a photo of the bush so you can see just how tall it's gotten:

Lest any of you suspect we have some gardening prowess which might have contributed to this marvel, I would assure you that it's not true. We do fertilize our roses in the spring; but, aside from that, our gardening secret is neglect, neglect, and even more neglect.

Friday

Bok-Slaw is Only So-So

The results are in. Peef and Lo agree that, Bok choy, while it WORKS for chipotle slaw (and is a somewhat tasty substitute for cabbage), is not optimal. So, you won't be seeing a new bok-slaw recipe on the BURP! blog anytime soon.

On the other hand, Lo is drooling in anticipation of her lunch today.
A pumpkin bagel with hummus. Mmm. Droolfest.

Thursday

Creative Ways with Bok Choy...

So, it's nearing the end of the work day for me. (Well, actually, my work day has ALREADY officially ended, but I am biding time before I leave work to go and pick up Peef --yes, we are still getting by with one car.) And so, I have begun to contemplate dinner.

The PLAN for dinner was to make stir-fry with the lovely bok choy we received from our CSA this week. As well as a lovely eggplant we harvested on Tuesday from our garden.

But, alas.
Stir-fry does NOT tantalize my intellectual taste-buds. Bok choy doesn't sound remotely appealing. Neither does eggplant.

So, I've consulted with Peef over email. He agrees. Stir-fry is a completely inappropriate dinner for this lovely evening. So, we discussed matters and have decided to make our famous fish tacos instead.

But, what of the lovely fresh-and-local bok choy? you might ask.
Well, we are going to make "bok-slaw" with it for the tacos (the equally fresh and delicious eggplant will have to keep and be used elsewise).

I'll report back to let you know if that turns out to be a GOOD thing.

Monday

Banned Books in a Rich Tomatillo Sauce

OK -- first, a clarification.
Yes, I'm serious about celebrating Banned Books Week. Does that make me a geek? Maybe. As some of you may know, I did work at a book store for quite a number of years during my college years. And we ALWAYS celebrated banned books week. In fact, I was the bookseller whose usual charge was to gather materials for a BBW display in the store. So, that's why I devoted an entire blog entry to it. And that's why I'm going to encourage you to visit The File Room, one of the most comprehensive reviews of censorship ever put together. And check out the "Literature" section. Pretty cool. If you're that kindofa geek too.

And second, a blog posting.
For those of you who don't have a particular interest in reading banned books (though I can't really forgive you for that), I can offer you some alternative reading.

A bit of comment from Dave Eggers on Monte Python (interview with Matt Dellinger) - in honor of the broadway version of Spamalot, which is coming to Milwaukee this spring. Or maybe some modern day "Dear Abby" for the office?

We actually did a little bit of reading this weekend ourselves -- though, not a ton, as we spent a good deal of our time cooking up scads of tomatillo sauce to sock away for the winter.

For those of you turning up your noses, I have to tell you: Tomatillo sauce is a wondrous thing -- and oh-so-versatile. We love it poured over black bean enchiladas, or swaddling a potato gratin. We've been known to add it to our chili or use it as a sauce for fishes. Even my mother has been drawn in by the velvety green elixer (she likes to put it in the crockpot with pork chops and let it work its magic).

Our sauce generally starts with about 100 tomatillos -- cute little green fruits, which resemble small tomatoes, only with a protective husk on their exterior. Add to that about 10 chiles, a few onions, some garlic, and a bit of time alone with a broiler and a blender, and you have all it takes to make a vat of lovely sauce.

I meant to write an ODE to the adorable green fruit -- to post right here, for all of you to see (and make fun of). But, alas, I've run out of time. Feel free to make fun of something else I've written.

Friday

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

Peef and Lo want to remind you not to forget to celebrate Banned Books Week.
The 26th annual BB week begins on September 29 (that's Sunday) and runs through October 6, 2007.

There are plenty of things you can do to observe BBWeek... but you don't have to organize a reading group or stage an event to participate.

Simply take the time to think about your RIGHT to read -- and what that really means. Consider individuals who have been persecuted because of their writings. And celebrate the freedom you enjoy to read what you choose.

Ten Most Challenged Books of 2006:

"And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;

"Gossip Girls" series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;

"Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;

"The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

"Scary Stories" series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;

"Athletic Shorts" by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;

"The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

Wednesday

Something I read today: Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy poem: Each Day, One More

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

From The Moon Is Always Female, by Marge Piercy
Copyright 1980 by Marge Piercy

Tuesday

Sustainable Thinking

As most of you know, Peef and I are pretty devoted to the idea of eating locally and supporting the philosophies of slow food. We haven't gotten to the point where I feel that we really do enough; but, we've made progress. We belong to a CSA, we make weekly trips to the farmer's market, we belong to a local co-op. Despite our lack of acreage, we even cultivate a small yard of vegetables and herbs during Wisconsin's short summers. Sometimes we pay just a little bit more for food that we know is ultra-fresh and flavorful. We also spend time nurturing our families and friends with food that we prepared with them in mind.

But, despite those things, it occurred to me that we probably haven't taken the time to really lay out the details of why we do what we do. So, I took the time this week to get down to business. And here are some of the reasons why we've chosen to support local agriculture. Some of the answers are familiar (trite, even). Others maybe not quite so much. You can decide for yourself.

  1. Local food just tastes better. No lies... that warm sun-kissed tomato I just picked from the backyard will ALWAYS win when compared to the pale, under-ripe variety I can find at the grocery store.
  2. Nutrition. Pure and simple. Some would argue that the jury is still out on whether organic is more nutritious than conventional produce. But, I have a hard time believing that food produced on factory farms and transported sometimes thousands of miles before it gets to market can beat out locally-grown produce. Well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become truly nourishing food. So, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is.

  3. Doing what feels right keeps us healthier. Totally getting a kick out of eating luscious, local strawberries (or apples, or soybeans, or chard) means that, in the end, we eat more fruits and vegetables. How can that be a bad thing?

  4. Buying local supports the local economy. I mean -- why not? We live here.

  5. Buying local conserves fuel. Australian apples? I don't care HOW organic they are! Give me freshness from my own backyard as often as possible.

  6. It's fun to buy from someone you know. Don't you have more fun when you buy your veggies at the farmer's market? For me, nothing beats meeting the farmer that grew my veg. And talking with him about how much he enjoys his work.

  7. So really -- the final reason really is that buying local FEELS good. And right.

Tell me When.

I'm closing my eyes. And I'm not opening them back up again until it's really fall. OK?

Officially, fall fell two days ago, during the Autumnal Equinox. But, apparently, somebody didn't get the memo. The weather here in Wisconsin has gone positively berserk.

Prior to the 21st of September, we experienced some very pleasant autumn-like temperatures. Daytime highs in the 60's. Evening lows in the 40's. Explain to me, then, how this past weekend could have given us daytime highs in the mid-high 80's. And how those (hot) temps have endured straight on through the first portion of this week. Yesterday, we hit a high temp of 88ºF (last year, on the same day, our high was 66º).

Come on! That's not even fair! I'd already begun transitioning my lifestyle in a more autumnal direction. I was so excited about the advent of fall weather two weeks ago that I went and dug out my POLAR FLEECE PANTS. I put away my sandals. I took OFF my toe-nail polish and started wearing SOCKS. I pulled out my SOUP recipes. Heck, people, I made a PORK ROAST that baked in the oven for three and a half hours on Friday! (These are not things you do when it's 87ºF outside)

Gratefully, it looks like a cold front might be coming in as early as this evening. Tomorrow's forecast looks more like a balmy 64ºF. *whew* This girl, who would be thrilled to death if temperatures would never again reach levels above 74ºF, is very relieved.

Monday

Another Blur of a Weekend

I thought I'd check in briefly to let those of you who are interested know that we LOVED the roasted pork we made on Friday night. I've posted the recipe over at BURP! so that you can try it out for yourself. The "melted apples" made a fantastic gravy for the roast -- which was unbelievably tender and uber flavorful. We'd make the roast again in a heartbeat (albeit using a bit less salt next time).

We had a great deal of fun on the Sprecher tour, after which we came back to our place and enjoyed our dinner "al fresco" to take advantage of the great weather (which settled into the low seventies for most of the day. Our feast included burgers (with a wide selection of toppings), green salad, potato salad, and grilled green beans. OH, yes! And "car bombs" for dessert. These beauties were slightly reminiscent of the stout floats we experimented with back in July -- but, they were actually really tasty. You can find our improvised recipe HERE.

Also had a great time with Kris & Kris on Sunday! It was nice to take the time to catch up with them and really get a good visit in.

The week looks as though it's going to be pretty busy here. And the weather is going to be just bizarre! It's in the eighties today -- and feeling downright HOT outside. Tomorrow is scheduled to be more of the same, maybe with some rain thrown in for good measure.

Where, oh where, is the fall that I so desire??!!

Friday

Dragging our Booty Into the Weekend

So... Paul had a great time yesterday, observing International Talk Like a Pirate Day. He hauled his BOOTY in to work, and chatted up a storm with his fellow mates.

Seems people in his office are a little more receptive to being quirky and outlandish than people where I work. Can you believe that NOT ONE person here even mentioned that it was Talk Like a Pirate Day?! Blasted Landlubbers...

We're a bit sad to return to normalcy at our house. But, fortunately for us, we have a crazy-busy weekend to distract us!

Friday, it's "catch up with Steph & Nate" night. S&N just returned from a trip to France, so we're excited to hear all their great stories, and see some of their photos. I'm bringing a slow cooked pork roast to the table, and Steph is providing the rest of the meal. If the roast is good enough for BURP! I'll post something for y'all to look at after the weekend.

Saturday, we'll be running a few errands (and making our weekly pilgrimage to the farmer's market) and doing a bit of clean-up around the house. But, round about 1pm or so, we're heading off for a tour of the Sprecher Brewery with our friends Rebecca & Michelle, who also happen to be our partners in crime when it comes to all things beer-related. Once we exhaust the good times to be had a the brewery, we'll be traipsing back to our pad for some grilled burgers, potato salad, and green beans. And, if all goes well, we'll be trying out the infamous STOUT FLOATS again (this time, we're going to add some Irish whiskey and chocolate to the mix and see if those flavors appeal a bit more).

Sunday, it's off to visit Paul's aunt Kris -- who we haven't seen enough of in the past year. We'll hang out there in the afternoon, have some dinner, and then make the drive back home again to turn in for some good old fashioned rest.

Wednesday

ARR...IT'S TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!!

Don't forget to don some PIRATTITUDE today, since it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! This 24-hour celebration of quirkiness is one of Peef and Lo's favorite days.

Learn more here!




Peef's pirate name be:

Dread Pirate Vane


Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, you have a keen head for how to make a profit. You tend to blend into the background occaisionally, but that's okay, because it's much easier to sneak up on people and disembowel them that way. Arr!


And Lo's be:

Black Mary Bonney


Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!



Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

Monday

A Soup Slip

So, today turned out to be a real Monday.
If you had warned me upon waking that I was going to wish I had stayed in bed, I probably wouldn't have believed you. But, that shows you how much I know.

Sure, it was a bit nasty trying to get up for work. But morning always comes a bit too early for my taste (especially after a good weekend); so, that wasn't a big change. In fact, the morning was rather pleasant. The drive in to work was even better-than-average, and we found ourselves feeling quite smug for finally cracking the code regarding what time it's best to leave in the morning without hitting nasty traffic on the way across town.

Work was rattling along just fine by about noon. In fact, I'd just had a discussion with a colleague about how much I'd gotten done already!

Even better, since the weather was turning out to be quite pleasant, we decided that it might be nice to take our lunches outside for a change. I went into the other room and heated up the bowl of roasted tomato soup that I'd brought to work for lunch. Brought it back to my desk, grabbed my apple, and

WHOMP! That's when it happened.
Homemade tomato soup all the way DOWN my shirt... into the waistband of my pants!!

As shocked as I was to find myself bathing in soup, I am quite sure that the soup was also quite horrified to find itself so utterly displaced.

There were two things that made the situation VERY fortunate indeed. One is that the microwave at work is VERY old, and doesn't seem to heat up soup to a very high temperature (even when one follows the proper heating instructions). The second is that, although I managed to splash my lovely new desk calendar with soup, not a drop made it down onto the brand new carpeting on the floor of my office -- which I found pretty nifty, considering how much soup seemed to have escaped down my blouse.

The thought occurred to me that I might be able to clean up enough to remain at work. Until I caught a WHIFF of myself. Yes, the soup smelled lovely in the bowl. But it was NOT the stuff that perfumes are made of.

Today's lesson: However tasty, tomato soup is not portable.

Ears of Peef

So, here is a long overdue list of bands that I think everyone should know about. Some I saw while at the South By Southwest music festival this last spring (that’s how long I have been meaning to put this list together). Others are local bands that are worth checking out if they happen to come to your neighborhood. So…here it is complete with links to the band’s myspace page or website so you can listen for yourselves. Enjoy:

From SXSW music festival or have stumbled upon this year:
Aesop Rock
Lily Allen
Bishop Allen (no relation to Lily)
Atmosphere
Bloc Party
The Bravery
Brazilian Girls
Brandi Carlile
The Cinematics
Stephanie Dosen (originally from Milwaukee)
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band
The Frames
Galactic

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
The Gossip
MuteMath

My Brightest Diamond
Ozomatli
Fionn Regan
Josh Ritter
Spoon

Milwaukee bands:

Blonde on Blonde
Maritime
The Monday Saga
Peter Mulvey
Northern Room
Revolush
Hayward Williams

Tuesday

On the Cusp of Something Wonderful

Grill Fest 2007, as fabulous as it was, has come and gone.
And that has both Peef and I yearning for our next great cooking adventure. Fortunately for us, we are on the cusp of something wonderful. Something called Fall.

You may (or may not) already know how much Peef and Lo get excited about autumn. If you're not familiar with our grande affection for fallen leaves and apple crisps, snuggley sweaters and wind-swept walks, then you're in for a treat.

One of the things that usually marks the beginning of fall at our house is the resurrection of what we call "cooking days." These are days when we devote ourselves to recipes that require uncommon amounts of time and dedication. Cooking days not only result in the creation of fabulous meals; but, they also give us a chance to bond over one of our very favorite activities. As an added bonus, even in the wilds of Wisconsin we have farmer's markets that continue through the end of October. So, we'll be keeping pace with our weekly trip to the market. And we'll be bringing home all sorts of goodies -- including autumn apples, winter squash, and any other goodies on which we can get our hot little hands.

Cooking days are aborted during the summer months. NOT because there is any lack of desire for lovely dinners, but because we try to devote ourselves to meals that require LESS work in the kitchen. After all, it's a waste of time and resources to heat up the kitchen when it's 90º outside. Wouldn't you agree? We do, in fact, do quite a bit of cooking during the summer. After all, we have access to ALL the lovely food from our CSA box, the farmer's market, and our backyard garden. But, it's simply not on the same level as what we do during the fall (and even winter) months.

Fall is also a great time of the year because we fill it up with wonderful things like visits to apple orchards, whole days dedicated to composting leaves for the vegetable garden, and hours spent searching for JUST the right pumpkin to adorn our home during the harvest season.

Lo has been inspired by something Jess said on her blog just yesterday.
Embracing the scholarly and serious attitude of September, I've decided that the best cure for my confusion is honesty. Honesty with myself and other people, when it will be For Good, even when it will be hard. This isn't to say that I'm not honest already--I like to think that I am a very honest person--this is more like active honesty. Honesty that seeks out nefarious confusion and badness and makes short work of it. Antibacterial honesty. Scrubbing bubbles honesty!
Being a bit OBSESSED with honesty myself, I can't think of a better plan. So, in the spirit of autumn, let's dedicate ourselves to antibacterial honesty. You on board?

Friday

Something I read today: Freeganism

I thought this statement about Freeganism written by No Impact Man was thought provoking.
If nothing else, it gets you thinking about how MUCH food we waste each day here in the U.S.

Be sure to watch the CNN clip he posts to his site.

Getting Ready for Grill Fest

It's Labor Day Weekend, which means Peef and Lo are prepping for the 3rd annual Grill Fest.

What's Grill Fest?
Well, it's a concept that evolved from our desire to bid farewell to summer by feasting on all that's best about the season.

There are no real hard-and-fast rules for the Fest -- except that Lo must make her famous "Tormented Eggplant" and Steph must bring her delectable goat cheese stuffed tomatoes. The veg must be as fresh as possible (and preferably local). And, oh, yes -- the bulk of the items must be "grillable"

This is a much anticipated event around our house -- and this year, we can't wait! Saturday morning will begin with an early trip to the farmer's market, where we'll scout out the most perfect eggplants and freshest ears of corn. The day will culminate in much cooking and prepping (this year the prep work will include putting together another famous treat -- coconut lime sours, an addictive dessert must grace our picnic table AT LEAST once every summer). There will also be a bit of cleaning. And possibly a bit of pre-Grill Fest reveling.

But, the real fun will begin on Sunday, when there will be much rejoicing, and grilling, and feasting. And, by the eve, we will all collapse in a state of Very Satisfied Bliss. Or at least that's the goal.

So, what are y'all up to this weekend?

Tuesday

For Lo's Geek Squad: The Impotence of Proofreading

While I don't spend my LIFE searching for things on You Tube like some people, I do find my share of amusements here and there.

A bit of English major humor for you all:



And, it's by Taylor Mali -- who is pretty much worth considering in and of himself. A real teacher among teachers.

New Wheels

So, the big news is that Peef and Lo have a new car!

After some ado about our crunched up Rodeo, we brought home a sweet baby Chevy last night.

Yes -- we ended up going with a 2006 Equinox in "galaxy silver." While this wasn't our first pick for exterior colors, we did manage to score a pretty good deal in other respects.

The vehicle to the left is a good relative facsimile -- although we did NOT opt for the sun roof (Lest you scoff, Lo suffers from a bit of a light sensitivity, so she is not sun-roof friendly).
The fact of the matter is, our new little car is a nice little purchase. It has lots of passenger space (impressive leg room, even in the back seats), enough cargo space that we can haul around things like DIRT and Christmas trees, and a bit of fuel economy (though we wouldn't delude you into thinking that was a main selling point).

Peef is excited that the car is XM-ready. And Lo is happy to say that she finally was able to afford a car with leather interior (and a handy storage space between the front seats for her purse!).

Although we pride ourselves on the fact that we can get by with only one car, I have to admit that being without a vehicle during the past week and a half has been... interesting. So, needless to say, the both of us are happy to be mobile once again!

Wednesday

A Too Lovely Weekend

On a very HAPPY note, we had the most WONDERFUL weekend with our friends.

The Crowded House concert on Friday night was just lovely (even the bands opener, 16 Frames, was pretty phenomenal). Even better, it was preceded by a fantastic dinner at one of our favorite little spots, the Roots Cellar.

Saturday turned out to be pretty rainy, so that nixed any concepts we had for outdoor activities. But we did manage to make a pilgrimage to Kopps Custard for lunch -- where we gorged ourselves on burgers, fries, and chocolate truffel custard (or, in some cases, turtle sundae). The Lakefront Brewery Tour was SOLD OUT (which bummed us out a bit); but we made our way over to the Domes where we scoped out the tropical forest and the arid desert-scapes. It was kind of a geriatric-feeling thing to do; but we all had a really great time.

In the evening, we retired back to our house, where we had a nice dinner of eggplant lasagnette, salad, garlic bread, and blueberry buckle for dessert. There was much visiting and drinking of wine. And everyone made their way to bed quite late (but hopefully very satiated).

We finished off the weekend with a lovely brunch at Trocadero, where we were charmed by the "breakfast burger" and "Mrs. Crock" among other delights -- and then, in the early afternoon, we said our (very reluctant) goodbyes.

And so we conclude: there is NOTHING like a great weekend with good friends.

Scraped Up and Caved In



So, we got into a bit of a fight with a cement guard rail on Sunday night. It was raining, and the road was slick...

We are (thankfully) just fine. A bit shaken up. But really alright.

Our car, on the other hand, is going to need some attention. Things under the hood have shifted around quite a bit. And it looks like the damages are more extensive than they first appear.

So -- it looks like our bathroom remodel might be getting postponed for a bit. In light of other, more pressing, expenses...

Thursday

Peef and Lo Are Expecting Visitors

Now -- I realize we've been a bit out of touch for the past week. But that's been for good reason.

For one -- we finally got our cabinet hardware, and were able to put our cabinet doors back up! Doesn't that look nice?
The rain has come to Milwaukee, so our grass is growing again. Which means we've been spending time outside MOWING (that's a foreign concept, as we haven't done it in WEEKS). We've also been spending some of our spare time cooking up great things in the kitchen (fish tacos, anyone?).

But, the biggest reason has to do with preparations around the house.
The excitement mounts as we gear up for a weekend with some of our favorite people. Rebecca and Jeremy are coming to visit us. All the way from the Promised Land (Fargo, ND for those of you who aren't familiar)! While they won't be brining their sweet kids along, they will be bringing another friend. Jackie will be visiting us from California. And we can't wait.

Right now, the weekend plans are still somewhat up in the air.
However, we do know that they'll arrive at our place sometime in the afternoon on Friday. After getting something to eat at one of the local eateries, we'll be rocking out at the Crowded House concert.

Saturday's events could include a trip to the farmer's market, a rendezvous to KOPP'S frozen custard, or time spent at Irish Fest... or maybe a local art fair (Oconomowoc's art fair happens to be ranked THIRD in the nation for juried art festivals). Depends what we're feeling like.

Whatever we decide, we always seem to have a great time.

Any Idea What He Is?


Any idea what he is?
We brought him home in a bag of arugula the other day.
(click for a closer view).

A Surprise in Our Salad

You probably remember Cracker Jack from the days of yore. That prize in the box was a thing of beauty -- and always brought a smile to your face.

Well, the other night, we got a prize of our own. No, not from a box of Cracker Jack. From a bag of salad greens.

The little guy was no bigger than the eraser end of a pencil. And he fit right in among those arugula leaves. Except that his thorny little back-side pricked me RIGHT in the hand when I reached down into the bag to pull out a pile of greenery to adorn my lovely sandwich.

Yes, I jumped.
And yes, I have suffered some trauma. I now have a tinge of trepidation upon approaching random bags of salad greens.

Needless to say, we had to take a picture before we released the little guy out into the yard.

Any idea what he is? (blogger did NOT like posting a photo to this posting for some reason -- so check him out above).

Great Gobs of Garden!

Dear Loyal Reader (yes, there may only be one of you out there):
It gives us great joy to announce that summer has arrived. Yes, even here, smack-dab in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The sun has shone. The rain has fallen. And Peef and Lo's garden has exploded with bounty. Ours is a SMALL garden, mind you --just two very simple 4'x8' raised beds on a city lot.

And yet, these little spaces are producing like mad. Just take a look at what we picked from our little garden today:





Dear reader, I want you to know that Peef (who happens to be sitting right here, censoring my typing) has declared that I DARE NOT type the following phrase: Tomatoes and peppers and eggplants, oh my! So, I've made it very tiny. He can't see it from where he's sitting.

The fact is, we have boatloads of produce. And this is a very good thing.

We are most titillated by our HUGE crop of lovely heirloom tomatoes. We have all we can do not to just grab them and bite into them right out in the yard, letting the juice dribble down our chins in streams of sticky-sweetness. In fact, these very tomatoes inspired us to create our absolute favorite summer treat -- Bleu cheese BLT's, which we are pleased to report, were composed of completely local ingredients (yay for locovorishness!).

If the thought of that doesn't make you drool, you might be interested to know that the inability to drool can be related to a condition called "cotton mouth" (often a symptom of larger, more serious disorders). According to WebMd (a site we go to often to appease our hypochondriasis) Xerostomia (dry mouth) results from an inadequate flow of saliva. You might also want to know that constant oral dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva can contribute to bad breath.

You might want to get a drink of water.

Tuesday

Behold! Athenian Green!

Having spent our entire weekend "prettifying" our hallway (and subsequently learning to upload photos) , we thought we'd share some photographs of the effort.
First, we're pleased to reveal the stunning WHITENESS of our hallway. This is BEFORE we started painting.


Everything in the hallway was white (and we mean EVERYTHING)... including the hardware on all of our cupboards, which we removed.
We armed ourselves with cans of Athenian Green paint (OK, one can. it's a small hallway).

About twenty four hours later, the hallway was beginning to transform.

Another twenty-four hours later, even the TRIM was painted (thank the Good Lord!).
We're still waiting for our new hardware to arrive (according to UPS, it should be delivered on Friday). So, the cupboard doors will have to wait. But we're quite enjoying the benefits of that little spot of color.


Monday

Busy Is As Busy Does

So, Peef and Lo have been busy. And apparently Being Busy makes us Bad Bloggers.

What, exactly, HAVE we been up to?

Well...
  1. HOUSE PROJECTS: We spent our weekend painting our hallway (Athenian Green) and searching for new hardware for the many cabinet doors IN the hallway.
  2. THE BATHROOM REMODEL: We met with our contractor about the bathroom rennovations -- and have been trying to make appointments with some of the local showrooms to view possibilities for fixtures, tiles, and the like.
  3. IN OUR QUEST TO REMAIN LOCOVORES: Last night, we spent a good portion of our evening searching Milwaukee for locally produced BREAD to make our first BLT's of the season (with tomatoes from our garden)... and ended up getting bread made in Minnesota (the closest we could come, apparently).
  4. NEW TOYS: We have been playing with our new digital camera -- but have yet to try downloading any of the photos.
  5. NEW FOOD: We've sampled the foodstuffs at a new local joint. Read about that, eventually, on our BURP! blog.

So, don't despair. We'll be back to blog about any number of these exciting items. Just as soon as we can manage to sit down for a few moments.

Tuesday

And she loves poetry...

Along the lines of being a Lit Geek, I thought I'd post one of my favorite poems...

Detroit Annie, hitchhiking
by Judy Grahn

Her words pour out as if her throat were a broken
artery and her mind were cut-glass, carelessly handled.
You imagine her in a huge velvet hat with great
dangling black feathers,
but she shaves her head instead
and goes for three-day midnight walks.
Sometimes she goes down to the dock and dances
off the end of it, simply to prove her belief
that people who cannot walk on water
are phonies, or dead.
When she is cruel, she is very, very
cool and when she is kind she is lavish.
Fisherman think perhaps she's a fish, but they're all
fools. She figured out that the only way
to keep from being frozen was to
stay in motion, and long ago converted
most of her flesh into liquid. Now when she
smells danger, she spills herself all over,
like gasoline, and lights it.
She leaves the taste of salt and iron
under your tongue, but you dont mind
The common woman is as common
as the reddest wine

What Be Your Nerd Type?

So, I found this on Jess' blog and I thought I'd participate.
Is anyone really surprised?

(in truth, I might also verge on being a FOOD NERD... but that wasn't an option!!)

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Drama Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
Musician
Science/Math Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace