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.


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!


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...


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.


"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!


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!



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.


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.


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)


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).

  • 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.