Telling Truths from Lies

While we weren't looking, an award was bestowed upon us by Rachel over at Rachel's Ramblings.
I met Rachel way back in college, during my very short stint at Cornell College in Iowa. She lived across the hall from me, and we developed quite the bond. One of my favorite things about her is that she's always been a promulgator of truth, so it seems appropriate that an Honest Scrap award would be bestowed to her. By the same token, I'm flattered that she sees us in the same light.

Of course, the acceptance of this award has a few rules attached. The honorees are to: a) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep! B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

1. I suffer from a bit of social anxiety. I'm fairly certain that it's not clinical; however, I find myself dreading social outings. My fear is particularly acute when the gathering is 1) large (I find I do best in smaller groups) AND 2) comprised of people who I don't already know (As enjoyable as it can be, I tend to find the process of getting to know new people exhausting).

2. I love reading and writing and learning; but, I've decided that school isn't for me. Right now, at least. I tried to go back for my master's degree this past fall... but, it felt all wrong. For as much as I enjoyed the challenge, and the intellectual dialog, and the brain exercise, I found myself resenting every moment I spent working on my homework. After some really tough soul-searching, I've decided that it's not the right time for me to go on for my degree. Tough decision to make. But, I think it's all good.

3. I am hopelessly addicted to cooking. And entertaining. Some people relieve stress by working out. I wind down at the end of a long day by cooking dinner. There is something seriously "zen" about chopping vegetables and setting things to saute in a bit of hot oil at the end of a long day. It's gotten to the point where I can't think of much I'd rather do after a nasty day at work than roast a chicken. Entertaining people at our house is a close second. I can't think of much that's more enjoyable than having a few people over for dinner... unless I haven't had time to plan everything out (which is the only point at which entertaining feels like a chore).

4. Cooking has made me into a "gadget girl". I always swore that you only needed a few things in the kitchen -- a few good knives, some good pots & pans... the basics. And for years, I got along quite well with the bare minimum. However, in the past few years, I have managed to accumulate a variety of (very useful) gadgets. A panini press. A waffle iron. A cherry/olive pitter. A tomato knife. A pasta roller. A variety of cake decorating supplies, including a turn-table, 3 offset spatulas, and a cake leveler. Silpats. A cookie press. An outdoor convection cooker. And for Christmas -- a Le Creuset Dutch oven (yay!).

5. I sometimes lose my cool. My mother was a yeller. I always swore I would never follow in her footsteps. Unfortunately, frustration brings out the worst in me. And my vocal decibels rise. It's something I always mean to work on, but not something I've not been terribly successful in abolishing.

6. I am 100% certain that my marriage is meant to be. Peef and I have a pretty good marriage. Most of the time, it's a partnership of equals to which we both contribute our finest qualities. But, sometimes I wonder how Peef puts up with me. There are times when I KNOW I'd drive myself up a wall... and most of the time, he acts pretty unphazed. Even after ten years, we seem to be discovering new things about one another. Thank God for that.

7. I have never been thin. In fact, I have absolutely NO IDEA what it would be like to be thin. There is positively NO doubt that I could be thinner than I am -- but I am quite positive that it would be impossible for me to ever become truly THIN. I recognize this most easily when I try on clothing from the Vera Wang collection at Kohls. Some things will never hang properly on a girl who is 5'4" and curvy.

8. I am not the easiest person to get to know. Someone at work who I've been getting to know for a couple of years pointed this out to me just before Christmas. It's not something of which I was completely unaware; but, I dont' think that anyone had ever come right out and said it to me before. It's true that I'm more introvert than extrovert. I like people, and I have quite number of very close friends. However, I don't feel that it's vital for most people really to know a whole lot about my inner workings. Thinking back on examples of how this works, it occurred to me that I'd worked at Marquette for almost two years when a colleague who worked in my office asked me if I had any children... I guess that illustrates my point.

9. Hallmark cards sometimes make me cry. This is a fairly recent development. I used to be made of steel when it came to sappy movies and touchy feely birthday cards. But, these days, I can stir myself up into a whorl of emotion just by taking a walk down the greeting card aisle. Sometimes, it's a useful form of catharsis. I'd highly recommend it.

10. I am a bit of a control freak. For people who know me well, this is no mystery. I love overseeing the big picture and putting all the pieces in place. I don't need to control what everyone else does, but I like having jurisdiction over my own life. It used to be that I had every moment planned out to a "tee". Marriage has helped me to relax a little bit. The lemons that life has thrown us of late have also helped me to revamp my perspectives. These days, I'm working on letting go a little bit more. But, I'm still not perfectly comfortable letting someone else take the wheel.

And now, for the tagging! I don't think I'll quite make seven, but here goes my best shot.
... will be interested to read whatever it is that you decide to share!


Merry Christmas!!

We've been busy lately with all the preparations that go along with the holidays.
Like baking cookies!

And decorating our Christmas tree!
However, we haven't forgotten about friends and family -- who truly make our lives worth living.

Here's hoping that each and every one of you has a very Blessed Christmas... and that 2009 follows with more good things than any of you can imagine.


Winter Wonderland

You probably know that the Winter Solstice comes December 21st; however, for those of us fortunate enough to live in the Northern states, winter seems to find us prematurely every year. Here is a nice photo that I took during this week's snow storm. If you're sharp, you can find our house over on the right!
Am happy to report that I've met with some success with regard to job opportunities this week. I had an interview with a marketing firm this morning and I have a couple of phone interviews set up for Monday and Tuesday of next week.

In the meantime, Lo and I plan to spend our weekend hunting for a Christmas tree. More photos and fun to come!!

Happy weekend!


Happy Thanksgiving!

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish ALL of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you've had the chance to feast on some great food today... and spend time with great friends and family as well.

As for us, we did feast. And now we're basking in the glow. We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday -- including a whole decade of wedded bliss. That's right. We celebrate 10 whole years together today. And that feels pretty darned... well, it's weird. I, for one, do not feel OLD enough to have been married for ten years. But, maybe that's not a bad thing.

Ten years is softer than nine
The corners have been rounded, and the edges beveled
We are no longer frightened by the shadows
Behind the others' eyes
For we find respite in the dark places.
Day breaks new on the old ones
And we pause in the tender forevers
Twirling about one another in swirls and patterns.
When we come to rest,
Smiling and in love,
We wonder of how we came to be
So, sweet and still.


OK, Pumpkin Picking Might be Better!

OK -- maybe there's something that trumps apple picking... Pumpkin picking! This is another one of our October traditions. And it can be a load of fun.

First, you've got to find a farm that grows pumpkins.
Then, you pull up the car and start perusing the wares.
We like to frolick in the pumpkin fields for a while.
But, then we begin our search for the perfect pumpkins.
We like pumpkins with very cool stems.
Especially little stripey pumpkins that are still attached to the vine!Yay for little stripey viney pumpkins!
Sometimes, the pumpkins we find do not meet our approval.
But, sometimes they make us very, very, happy!
There are some pumpkins that you just can't help hugging.
And other pumpkins that deserve to be held up high above the rest.
I think we've finally settled upon a few to take home.
The End.


Nothing Better Than Autumn Apple Picking!

Some of you know that we make it a point to take a weekend in October to go apple picking at Barthel's Fruit Farm in Mequon.

Here are some highlights from our apple picking adventures.

Come on, kids! Apple picking is fun!!
And the apples are so purty!
Look at how fresh and dewsome they are!You can pick apples, or you can just hide in the trees!
Or you can play on the ladders...But, while you're there, be sure to pick some apples!And kiss them.
We're having so much fun picking all these apples!Well, some of us are having fun.
Yay for apple picking!
The End.


Life Begins After Birthday Week

I'm pleased to report that birthday week started off fantastic -- and ended on an awesome note. Thanks to all of you who participated -- and helped to make it such a stand-out success.

I'm really pleased to report that, not only did we make it out to Barthel Fruit Farm to pick apples and pumpkins, but we had a great time! The Ida Reds were prime for the picking. And the pumpkins weren't half bad either. We took loads of great pictures (which we'll share when I get a chance to sit down at the computer to download them)... so stay tuned!

We also had an amazing dinner on Saturday night with Steph (of which, I'm sad to report, there are no photos). We seared up some delicious scallops, composed another batch of delicious arugula corn salad, and made homemade butternut squash ravioli (with browned butter, sage, and marscapone cheese). Yum. After dinner, we managed to stay up WAY past bedtime playing Trivial Pursuit and drinking pumpkin martinis (made with awesome, locally distilled Pumpkin Spirits and a bit of Frangelica)... so, we were pretty tired all day on Sunday. But, it was totally worth it.

Now, it's back to the old grind again. Peef working. Me working and studying. It feels a bit dull. So, I thought I'd share some random thoughts about things that are going on in our lives.
  1. THE GARAGE. Not quite as exciting as birthday week, but I'm pleased to report that we finally finished painting our garage ... and we also bought a new service door(!). As soon as we get the door hung (hopefully this next weekend) we'll have pictures to share. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how great the "new" garage really looks!
  2. THE PAPER. Some of you might know that Lo has been struggling with a research paper topic since the beginning of the term. But, she might be narrowing in on a possibility. For those of you who are curious, she's thinking about writing on women and the pressure to marry. She got a hold of some interesting information about an 18th century female "singleton"... and she might run with it.
  3. THE GARDENS. Seems everything is wrapping up for the season. We still have a few peppers struggling to ripen. And the scallions are going strong. We might even get a few tomatillos before the season is through. But, I think we'll be taking everything down this weekend before the chill in the air gets too strong.
  4. THE ELECTION. If you're reading this, consider yourself reminded to vote. This is probably the most important election we've voted in during our lifetimes. So, really. Don't let it slide.
  5. THE BATHROOM. After we've done our part and voted in the election, we'll be hoping that interest rates fall just a bit. And that way we'll be able to take out a loan for our upstairs bathroom rennovation. Hurrah!
  6. SUSHI. Oh -- did I mention that we had sushi for my birthday on Friday? It was awesome. But, I'm really looking forward to my next fix. So, who's going to come out for sushi with us??!!


A Good Birthday -- So far!

I never know what it's going to feel like... turning another year older.

Somehow, I always expect that something dramatic is going to happen. But, it never really does. And maybe that's OK with me. Especially since I'm generally pretty happy with my life.

Some of you know that we celebrate Birthday Week at our house -- because one day is never enough celebrating. So far, birthday week has been pretty wonderful.
  • Lo had lunch with her Mom, Keri, and Reagan on Wednesday. And they spent a nice afternoon tromping around Costco and visiting.
  • We had dinner at Maxie's with Peef's parents (Lo got to eat gumbo and derby pie, and peef indulged in a really fantastic barbequed beef brisket and a fantastic arugula salad that we created over at Burp!)
  • We had dinner at Cafe Sourette in West Bend, WI (Lo had a pretty good orange ginger duck and a delightful chocolate raspberry cake, while Peef ate flat iron steak... are you seeing a pattern here?)
  • Lo took a few days off of work -- for lots of lazing about!
But, the birthday week won't be complete until we get a few more lovely activities in:
  • Lo will get her wish for birthday sushi on Friday night (can't wait!)
  • We're planning on our annual trip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch this weekend, if the weather holds out. And then, I'm thinking there might be some baking in the cards!
  • Hopefully, we'll be getting together with Steph -- either for a birthday cooking extravaganza, or else a night out (Lo is hoping for La Merenda or Meritage).


Oktoberfest 2008

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so ten pictures should be more than enough for one blog post, I say.

Fun, huh?


Lies. All Lies.

So, we didn't drink our way through the vice-presidential debate. Or even the last presidential debate.
Although I think we're both getting to the point where we can't wait for November 4th to arrive. And be gone.

While waiting, we're trying to enjoy ourselves.
  1. We spent the weekend in Dallas, WI... where we partook in their annual Oktoberfest celebration... a small town affair with feasting, Viking combat, and a whorl of other funny, kitschy delights). Eating photos HERE. Other errata to come.
  2. I've been reading lots of early American literature. And a really great book about early American novels by Cathy Davidson (Revolution & the Word). Yeah -- I'm geeking out. Bigtime.
  3. Peef has been traveling again. This week he was in Seattle. Ate at a fine little gastropub called SPUR. Very kewl.
  4. Speaking of spurs. Did I ever tell you that I want to start a bluegrass band called the Pink Spurs? (yeah... another one of those far-fetched dream things)
  5. This weekend we are planning to finally paint our garage! (yes, the self-same garage that we SCRAPED back in June and primed over the 4th of July weekend). The weather looks positively fabulous (70's, partly sunny). So, we're stoked. Really. Stoked.


Get Ready. Get Set. DEBATE!

Thanks to Rebecca, who alerted us to the possibility, we know how we're going to be spending our evening.

The Official* Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Game!

It's not about taking sides, after all. It's about the beer (so buy the good stuff).

Remember to drink responsibly.


The Week in Brief

When Monday starts off with a migraine, you can fully expect the rest of the week to be better. Right?

Tuesday: Peef and Lo part with a large sum of money (we had the roofers re-roof our garage while they were here to fix the leak in the roof of the house... so, the good side of it all is that we have all sorts of new roofing around our place)

Wednesday: A quandary ensues about what to make for dinner. After all, we don't want to miss the season premiere of Pushing Daisies.

Thursday: A quandary about whether or not to watch the debate. Of COURSE we'll end up watching. But, I really don't want to.

Friday: Preparations for our trip to Oktoberfest. The kitchiest, most wonderful festival in all the land!


More From the Pig Roast

You can get the food end of the Pig Roast we attended at Pinehold Gardens this past weekend over at BURP! But, here's some additional photos that tell a little bit more of the story.

After all, there were free range chickens!
And a muddy little swine...
Who lived in a hut...
... that turned out to be a happy little OINK! hut...
And there were artistic scenes that revealed themselves in black & white...
...succulent grapes on the vine, so ripe that they filled the air with their sticky-sweet fragrance as we were walking past.There were bees... which we found out later are kept by the farmers at Pinehold to assist in the pollination of their fields.
There were bunches of garlic hanging up to dry.
And a nice man named Orlando (on the right), who tapped the beer kegs for us when we arrived.
In this photo, you'll spy a ghostly apparition in the background... looking remarkably like Peef.
Oh, wait. That was Peef. :)