He Says/She Says

So, I saw this meme on Jess' blog, and I had to bite.
To make it even more fun, I invited Peef to give it a whirl too!

1. Childhood ambition:
PEEF: I wanted to be Burt from Mary Poppins.
LO: I wanted to be a dancer or ballerina (mostly to wear cool costumes and kick my legs high into the air); I also always wanted to be a writer (the kind who snarled at her black Remington typewriter and smoked a lot -- what a dream, huh?)

2. Best/worst weather:
PEEF: Best: cloudy, with low humidity and temps in the mid 70s. Worst: Anytime we get more than 2 inches of snow at a crack.
LO: Best: Partly sunny & breezy with a high of 74º Worst: -15º (not including the wind chill)

3. Favorite food:
PEEF: Chicken and rice
LO: Hands down, it would have to be cheese. Almost any kind of cheese. (and no - the WI tourism board is not funding this answer)

4. Current book?
PEEF: The Golden Compass
LO: Kite Runner

5. Guilty pleasure:
PEEF: American Idol
LO: Guilty? Who wants to feel guilty?

6. One quirk:
PEEF: I like to be a pest. I think it has something to do with being the youngest family member.
LO: I absolutely must sit in a seat facing the door (particularly when sitting in restaurants).

7. Something you’ve never done that most people have:
PEEF: I have never been to Disney World/Disneyland.
LO: Had a drink of WOP. Read Macbeth all the way through (it's really true).

8. Favorite drink?
PEEF: adult drink: Lakefront Riverwest Stein (beer), everyday-won't make you tipsy-drink: iced tea
LO: lemonade (on the adult side, I could really go for a gin & tonic, just about anytime)

9. Oddest job you’ve had:
PEEF: There is a tie here - working in a Deli at a small grocery store in Green Bay and working 3rd shift at a gas station in West Bend, WI. The deli for the people I worked with and the gas station for the people that showed up at 3 in the morning. Odd doesn't even begin to explain either one...
LO: carhopping at the A&W (can you envision it?)

10. Last song you listened to on purpose:
PEEF: Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - Michael Jackson (25th Anniv. of Thriller is getting released on Feb. 12th and I am very excited)
LO: Shameless (Ani DiFranco)

11. Cities, towns, villages you’ve lived in, in chronological order:
PEEF: Plainville, KS; Mequon, WI; Kewaskum, WI; Green Bay, WI; Germantown, WI; Wauwatosa, WI; Milwaukee, WI
LO: Milwaukee, WI; Kewaskum, WI, Mt. Vernon, IA; Green Bay, WI; Iowa City, IA; Germantown, WI; Wauwatosa, WI; Milwaukee, WI... I think I've now come full circle!!

12. Teenage ambition:
PEEF: To have a biopic made of my life.
LO: To be a college professor, complete with cool glasses and absent-minded quirks.

13. Movie you’d most like to be a character in:
PEEF: The Dark Crystal
LO: I'd love to be riding the dragon thingie in The Neverending Story. I'd also love to take a spin in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (although that would be infinitely scarier).


New Music

Take a look at what I found in Eau Claire, WI...Bon Iver.

You might also want to check out these bands (or albums) to get you through the winter blahs:


Something I read today: Average is the new Awesome

The pressure is off.
Finally, I can live my life without stress to BE MORE (probably a good thing, since it's Friday... and I simply CAN'T be any more anymore anyhow).

Those of you who know me can probably imagine that I'm having a hard time saying that without my tongue placed firmly in cheek. But, this article did get me thinking about the pressures we place on ourselves to be exceptional. And I might be coming around.

A part of me is truly refreshed by the idea that a bit of mindfulness goes a very long way... so I thought I'd share.


Where Peef talks about warm weather and sleezy rock stars

As you know, I spent most of the past week in LA. And yes, it was a bit warmer there. When I got off the plane it was 72 degrees and sunny. The first evening, the Santa Anna winds kicked in and the temp dropped to the 50s. But, the rest of the week, it was sunny and beautiful.

For those of you that have never been to a NAMM convention before (which I will presume many of you have not) let me try to give you an idea of what it is like. First you have every type of music manufacturer at this thing. We had Mapex drums on one side of us and Ibanez guitars and Tama drums on the other side. In addition, we were flanked by some obnoxious horn company which allowed crazy people to try out their trumpets to see how high and loud they could play. Let's just say it isn't particularly quiet at this show.

Not only is it audibly loud, but the fashion tends to be on the loud side as well. There are mohawks, tattoos, piercings, high heels and cleavage galore. There are also quite a number of celebrity musicians who stroll around. Some are there for signings, others are there to perform. There is always one question that circulates among the crowd in our booth during convention each year: Of all the famous musicians, who would it be that would just leave you speechless if you saw them walking past? It's a tough call for me, but I think Ringo Starr or Sting would do it for me. Who would it be for you?

I thought you might be interested in some PROOF that I really was at NAMM (and that there are really famous people there).
That's me with Chad Smith (drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). He did a signing in our booth for a new DVD that we are releasing soon.

Other sightings included Paul Stanley from Kiss, Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, Mick Thomson from Slipknot and Slash from Guns & Roses. Others saw Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Steve Vai, John Mayer, Jamie Cullum, and Eric Clapton. There were rumors of Hannah Montana showing up, but apparently she could not get away from her tour.

Thursday night I saw Soulive and if they come to your town, you should see them too. Unless you don't like it funky, then you should maybe stay home.

Now I am back to my regularly scheduled day. Came home just in time for the 12" of snow!


Italian Nachos and Other Random Tidbits

Peef will arrive here in Milwaukee in less than two hours.

While I've missed him (this house starts to feel incredibly large and vacuous without him), I have to admit that I had an enormously enjoyable weekend. Despite the fact that it was uber cold (-2ºF when I got up yesterday, and about 5ºF without the wind-chill factor today), it has been filled with friends, frivolty, and food. And what could be better than that?
  1. First of all - I got to have dinner with two of my favorite people, Rena and Steph.
  2. Secondly, I got some reading done.
  3. Thirdly, I got to indulge in one of my favorite foods (a potpie).
  4. Above all, I managed to relax and enjoy my time alone.
Rena and I ventured off to Libiamo on Friday for bruschetta, pasta, and a lovely bottle of our favorite Valpolicella Ripasso. We sat in our usual booth and chatted for hours before heading home.

On Saturday, I nearly finished "Kite Runner" (Hosseini), I created a lovely Thai noodle bowl for lunch, and then I proceeded to spend the remainder of the day shopping with Steph. Shopping is a fairly rare pastime for the two of us, but we had a great time. After trying on hundreds of pairs of shoes (there was a clearance sale at Boston Store) and purchasing a few new items, we were exhausted. So, we retired to Joey Buona's for a platter of (evil, but good) Italian nachos. After a long day of shopping, there's nothing quite like a plate of "pasta chips" loaded with alfredo sauce, melted mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, kalamata olives, diced tomatoes and pepperoncini. Incidentally, we also ordered bowls of lasagne soup, which sounded fabulous but which we couldn't eat because the nachos were TOO HUGE (we took both bowls home for leftovers).

Today, while I could have been vacuuming, I hunkered down with a few cooking magazines and watched a bit of PBS. I ate a potpie for lunch, after which I did manage to load the dishwasher full of dishes from the weekend. So, I feel pretty good about myself.


Oh, no. I'm addicted.

If I seem to have a bit of a crazy look on my face, you should know that I stumbled upon a vocabulary game with a conscience today ( And I think I'm addicted.

There are 50 vocabulary levels.
So far, I've gotten up to 45. But, the day is young.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who could justify wasting hours playing vocabulary games all day long!

Something I read today: An Omnivore Defends Real Food

In following the hype surrounding Michael Pollan’s latest book, “In Defense of Food", I read this New York Times piece.

Pollan's thesis is simple: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
I don't think that one can really disagree with that premise. It's simple. To the point. And it gets at the heart of what we need to do to eat for health (and for the environment). Admittedly, I'm a bit of a hedonist when it comes to cooking and food, so the "not too much" part is my biggest downfall. But, I digress.

That said --I'm not sure I'll be buying the book.
I've not yet read "In Defense of Food;" but, having read quite a bit about it already, I'm starting to wonder if the information it contains is just more recycled bits. Take for instance Pollan's article "Unhappy Meals" which appeared last January in the NYT.

In Which Lo Shares a Tale About Decomposing Foodstuffs

We try as much as we can to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, so we're big fans of composting our food scraps (of which we have many). Not only is the habit good for the environment, it's VERY good for our gardens (which shriek with delight at the sight of a bucket of the stuff). Because we have a limited amount of space on our city lot, we have two lovely compost bins in our yard, which we purchased a couple of years ago. We maintain a fairly simple system of rotation -- using one bin during the summer months, and the other in the winter -- so that we have a fairly steady supply of black gold for our gardens. This is, as Martha Stewart might say, a very good thing.

Anyhow, before he left for NAMM, Peef took out the compost.
And now, he is my HERO.

Peef normally takes out the compost for me, because he is a very nice boy. It was dark outside, which makes him an even NICER boy (I must confess to an irrational fear of going outside in the yard when it is dark).

The IPOD was playing some lovely song, and I was dancing merrily around in the kitchen, when Peef came stomping back into the house with a look of horror on his face.

"What was IN there?" he exclaimed, as he ran over to the sink and turned on the water to rinse off his hand. "It was stuck on the bottom of the bucket, and I had to reach down in there to get it out... and when I tapped the bucket to get out the last of it... it splashed on my face!!" He looked like he was going to be sick.

Sure enough, I looked into the bucket, and the bottom was coated with the remainders of an ecto-plasmic green slime. Bleh. (Apparently, copious amounts of chopped cilantro decompose exceedingly quickly when given the right conditions at the bottom of the compost bucket...)


All By Myself. Well, kind of.

This morning, at the very buttcrack of dawn, the kittens and I wished "bon voyage" to Peef as he set out for NAMM trade show. As if it's not bad enough that he gets to spend the next few days rubbing elbows with celebrities and industry experts, the show is held in Anaheim, CA (where it is currently a balmy 66ºF). So, we'll think fondly of him as we shiver and shovel ourselves out of the snow.

Peef absconded the digital camera, so I'm suspecting he'll share some of his experience with all of us when he gets back. If you're REALLY lucky, he'll get (and share) a photo of the ubiquitous Hannah Montana, who will be signing autographs at NAMM over the weekend... LOL.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to some good old-fashioned "alone" time. I'm not sure exactly how I'll spend all of my newfound time (although I've already got "hot" dinner dates with my friends Rena and Steph over the weekend). I can foresee some reading (am working on the book "Kite Runner" among other things), maybe a bit of cooking (though I really muddle around in the kitchen more than I cook when I'm by myself), and probably some blogging. I scheduled an appointment with the eye doctor on Friday, so I'll get some "life business" out of the way. And, of course, there's a bit of snow scheduled to arrive on Thursday. So, I'll get to spend a bit of my time shoveling (what would NAMM week be without a bit of shoveling?).

Anyhow -- if you've got some time to spare, give me a holla!


Something I read today

This article from the Utne Reader was posted over at Deb's Lunch the other day. Intrigued by the sub-header (Why Michael Pollan Makes Me Want to Eat Cheetos), I printed it off and gave it a read.

The article is well conceived, and Julie Guthman (UC-Santa Cruz) presents a good argument against the "tone" of Michael Pollan's book. Her point that "fat people bear the weight" when it comes to public conversation about food and food policy is well taken. Pollan's book does seem to suggest that WE are fat because we are too stupid to eat the foods that would keep us thin.

Dr. Guthman also cautions the latest "food movements" against an anti-regulatory approach to food politics... the sense of apolitical privilege that tends to oppress.

Got me thinking.
And so, I ask: Are we, as locovores, a bunch of smug, self-righteous (and PC) idiots? No, we don't have to be. In fact, I'd argue that it's vital that we NOT be.

One of the biggest things I've struggled with, when it comes to my support of "local" and "organic" is that it's a difficult topic to discuss without coming off as completely judgmental. It's also become an increasingly difficult topic as organic farms get BIGGER and more industrialized. It's a tough thing. For me, this is a very personal issue in a great many ways -- those of you who know me probably know that. Lately, I've been pondering the issues of availability and access when it comes to organic food, and it's leading me to some pretty interesting reading. Food and social justice, it seems, are inextricably tied... and it seems Pollan, in all of his wisdom, seems to have neglected that small truth.


January Soup Night: The Clear Winner

Thanks to all of you who showed up on Sunday evening and helped to make our latest soup night a great success!

Sunday's "spattering" featured three well-received soups:
  1. Creamy Potato
  2. Turkey Tortilla
  3. Red Lentil

For those of you who have been wondering which soup was the favorite, we're pleased to announce that, although every soup received an admirable number of votes, the CLEAR winner was:

Check out the recipe for the winning soup here.

And don't forget to mark your calendars. Our next Soup Night will be held on Sunday, February 17th!


Something I read today: What Would Michael Pollan Eat?

As someone who was intrigued and challenged by The Omnivore's Dilemma, my head turned when I came across this article in the SanFrancisco Gate this week.

The question of "What would Michael Pollan Eat" had me chuckling at first glance. But, while the article isn't particularly humorous, it's a great reminder of some keys for "real" eating (like the carbon footprint we make when we eat meat).

I thought you, too, might enjoy.

Another soup hint. #2 is NOT vegetarian.

Don't forget about Soup Night - 1/13

Just a reminder, in case you've forgotten, that the next soup night is a comin' up on Sunday, January 13th. And, as always, we'd be very pleased to see you there!

We've been getting bludgeoned with requests for what soups we'll be serving. Apparently some of you think that you'd like to match your "bring alongs" with the the soup (crazy)!

While I'm not going to reveal exactly what we're planning, I'll give you a hint about each.

  1. Is a comfort food favorite. Creamy and delish. Vegetarian until you add bacon.
  2. Is a new take on an old favorite. With Southwestern flair.
  3. Is it Egyptian? Turkish? You'll have to decide. This vegetarian soup is made to please.

Think you've figured them out? Post your guesses in comments!


Little things.

Not sure if this little "spew" will be meaningful to any of you, but I just have to share.

Some of you know that I'm a quitter.
I dumped my doctoral program in Classics like a bad habit -- way back in 1997 -- and I've been trying to "find my way" in the academic world ever since. I haven't exactly made gigantic strides... I've done some course work, and I have a respectable administrative position in higher ed. But, I've always struggled with the thought that I gave up something BIG.

Today I'm OK with that.
And it's all because someone was kind enough to put some positive energy out there in my breathing space.

I just had the most uplifting conversation with a doctoral student here at the university. He came over to get approval for some prep work for his comprehensive examination, and we got to talking about life, and goals, and how he got where is he is today (grant writing for a very large local school district). I'll spare you all the details; but, by the time he turned to leave, I was filled with the most profound sense of HOPE...

I need to write that boy a thank you note.


2008: Year of the Potato?

So, I read today that the year 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the United Nations. Wikipedia confirmed the news.

I'll have to consider whether or not that warrants any action on our part. Maybe it will prove to offer some inspiration to us (or BURP!)... but, that has yet to be determined.

For now, I'm focusing on the bigger picture. I've never been much for resolutions -- preferring instead to simply spend some quiet time in reflection.

What's important to me this year?
What do I hope that 2008 holds for Peef & Lo?

My personal wishes:
  1. We'll have a few more relaxing weekends than we did in 2007. (Last year, even the snowy winter weekends were crazed. This year, I'm hoping we can get back to having "cooking days," as a start.)
  2. We'll be able to focus on spending more quality time with those we love. (Soup Nights are a good step in the right direction, I think. We'll see if we can expand on that notion...)
  3. We'll live healthier and BE healthier.
  4. We'll pour more of our time and dollars into slow, sustainable foods to nourish our bodies and souls. (I'd really like to join the Wisconsin chapter of Slow Food and participate in some of their events this year)
  5. We'll continue to make good progress in paying off our debt! (This last one has been a goal of ours for 2-3 years now -- and we're making fairly good progress)


Back to work!

Peef and Lo are back to work today. After having a bunch of days off, we figured it wouldn't hurt too much to go back to work for a couple of days.

Happy New Year to you all! (a bit late, we know)
One of our resolutions is to be better, we will see how long that lasts.