Wednesday

The Miracle of a New Year.


So, here we sit, in the last few days of a year that's been fraught with plenty of good -- but enough bad that I can't imagine wanting to hit "replay". And yet, I'm feeling very peaceful.

It's remarkable to think about the hope, the potential, and the joyful mystery of the new year.  I'm certainly not delusional, but I've always somehow believed in the hope that springs new upon the eve of the new year.  And, as I sit here contemplating what's to come -- I feel that hope.

Tomorrow we will wake up early. If we get up early enough, there will be coffee. And a bit of kranzkuchen. Steph will arrive and we'll drive off to gather our wares for another New Year's feast.  This year, we're exploring Asian cuisine.  We'll make up a bit of sushi, maybe some Chinese dumplings, a few eggrolls, some tempura, and whatever else we feel inspired to create. We'll cook all day, and nibble as we go. We'll laugh. Play games. Drink wine. And enjoy one another's company.  At midnight, we'll crack open a bottle of champagne and toast the new year.

And when it's all over, we'll drift off to sleep with smiling faces and full bellies. And we'll wake up to a blank slate. A new calendar. And the hope that, somehow, an exciting stretch of days just waiting to be shaped into something new, lay before us.

Although it's virtually impossible to simply place all of our burdens down at 11:59 p.m. on the eve of the new year, and wake up to an utterly clean slate on the first of the year, it's certainly a contemplation worth having. 

Our hopes and goals for 2010
Stress less, and pray more.
Love freely and deeply. 
Judge less, and be generous with our grace cards. 
Open up, and reach out. 
Stretch our boundaries.
Do more creating, and less tearing down. 
Eat well, and share meals often. 
Explore the boundaries of new cooking worlds. 
Focus on the immense possibility of possibility.

As you reflect on 2009 and step over the threshold of the new year, may only good await. And may your 2010 hold nothing less than miracles.

-- Peef and Lo                       


Sunday

Halloween Weekend with Peef & Lo

October has been a complete blur.
Birthdays... weddings... Oktoberfest in Dallas, WI... a weekend in Minnesota with Paul's peeps... this was the first weekend we've spent at home in a looooong time.  So, of course we had to rustle up some good old fashioned autumn fun.

First, we played in the leaves...  and then we raked them all up into piles like good little homeowners should.

Then we brewed up a nice batch of creepy crawlie "shrunken head" autumn apple rum punch.

Mighty tasty -- and the shrunken heads (which were made of carved & dried Granny Smith apples -- thanks Martha!), were pretty kewl.  Here are a few of our favorites:


Sneering dude.


Askeered dude.


Vampire dude.


And scary skeleton dude.


Steph came over and enjoyed our punch with us. And we feasted on delicious sweet potato gnocchi with sage browned butter, and bacon-cider mustard greens (sorry, no pix!).

This afternoon, we whipped up a batch of Root Vegetable Stew with Beef... which we enjoyed while watching Nightmare Before Christmas (for the 47bazillionth time... I think it keeps getting better).

Sing along with us, won't you?


Friday

Windows 7 now available

And apparently you should throw a party?

For reals?

Wow.
What happened to that cute little girl that was on their commercials? I think she is a better spokesperson than this crazy bunch...

Wednesday

Ode to Mix Tapes -- ah! the memories


RebeccaL sent me something this morning over email that I just had to share.



Ode to Mix Tapes
Srsly. You've got to read this one.


Do you remember the process?

Collecting those emotions.
Listening to the lyrics.
Making sure the mood was perfect.
Saying things we weren't brave enough to say ourselves.
Pausing, rewinding, playing... making sure the transitions "work".
It was all part of the process. And it was fantastic.

Makes me wonder about all the generations that will never experience that sort of "blue collar labor"...

Photo credit: Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org (via flickr)

Thursday

My Birthday Poem


Got this poem today from my friend, Caitie. Couldn't be more perfect.

Poem in October

by Dylan Thomas

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
Summery
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

Tuesday

Things That Amuse Us: Freak Revolution

Freak, (n). Alternative. Misfit. Outcast. Visionary. World-changer.
Revolution, (n). A drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.
~~*~*~*~**~*~*~~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*

So, Peef emailed me today and told me to head on over to Freak Revolution.

"Read their manifesto," he wrote, "You'll love it."

And wouldn't you know it? He was absolutely right.
This is exactly the sort of organization that Peef and I would dream up some night while we're sitting there on the couch drinking glasses of wine and wondering what to do next. It's brilliant. And, best of all, it's absolutely true.

Let me read you just a little bit -- just to give you a taste.

We are living in a mass hallucination.

We think it’s normal to work all day every day at a dead-end job. It’s normal to fight with our spouses and our children. It’s normal to eat and drink and drug ourselves to escape, to veg out and stare at a screen for hours a day just to dull the pain. It’s normal to hate our lives and be miserable, it’s normal to be lonely, it’s normal to feel hollow.

The control paradigm tells us that we are tiny insignificant cogs in a big whirring machine where no one cares and no one will ever notice us. That is a terrible lie. We are brightly shining stars caught in a murky fog. All we need is the courage to shine and the knowledge that we can.

Gandhi had it half right when he said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The second half is “connect with others.” If you go off and live on a mountaintop and never talk to anyone - even if you’re being the change you want to see in the world - you’re not changing the world. But if you come down from time to time and connect with people so they know you’re living your perfect life on a mountaintop, and if you tell them that they can follow their own dreams and live their own perfect lives, too? That’s revolutionary.

[...]All you need to do is be your authentic self and connect with others. That’s the kind of revolution we can get behind, the kind of revolution we’re building.
-- Pace & Kyeli Smith &/or Martin Whitmore, Freak Revolution

I guess I'm probably a freak -- cuz that message resonates with me pretty well. And I think I probably have a new blog to follow.


Fly your freak flag higher, people.
It's gonna change the world.

Download the manifesto yourself.
Read it. Love it. Live it.

Thursday

New Cure for What Ails You: Pictures of You

You've never seen the Cure performed quite like this before... AWESOME!

Wednesday

Friday

Why I love the Fair

The 158th annual Wisconsin State Fair opened yesterday. And boy-oh-boy. It's a dandy this year. And we're not the only ones who think so. Karen wrote all about it on her Between the Bars blog.

We've actually got plans to make a trip out to the fair next week -- when all the excitement has has a chance to die down. I find that the fair is best after all the pigs have been judged, the contests have been adjudicated, and the overall "newness" factor has dissipated.

I do love me some of the fair. And so, I'm posting a little homage.

I love going to the WI State Fair because:
  1. WI SF has a micro-brew beer tent that most certainly puts other fairs to shame
  2. there's chocolate covered bacon
  3. there's beer
  4. who can resist the cheese curds?
  5. and don't forget the deep fried oreos
  6. there's always more beer
  7. you can always find silly city folk that seem to think all animals belong behind bars
  8. seeing washed up bands play is like watching a train wreck
  9. people watching is always at its prime
  10. there are pig races!
If that isn't enough to make you get up off your couch and go buy tickets to the fair, then you should check your pulse. Really. Just think of all the fun we had LAST YEAR!

AND if your heading out there, look for me. I'll be the one wearing the Skynard shirt and the trucker cap spilling my beer down your back. I'll probably even bring Lo along -- since her new hill-billy look is seriously stylin'.

You think I'm kidding? Heck, I don't want to look like no fool. I need to blend in so that I don't draw too much attention to myself. After all, I'm one of those silly city folk. And, now that I'm half famous from being in the Journal Sentinel, I don't need nobody recognizing me either.

Have fun at the fair y'all...

Saturday

And the Diaper Bag Diva Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone for participating in the Diaper Bag Diva Giveaway!

The winner, as selected by the Random.org integer generator, IS:

#88:
Erma, who said:

I love the JP Lizzy Strawberry Truffle Classic Tote Set cause it is so cute.

July 30, 2009 6:39 AM


Well, Erma -- I'll be emailing you in just a few moments to let you know that you're the lucky winner.

Wednesday

Party 'til Your Teeth Fall Out

This past weekend, I felt like the universe was sending us a message.
Like "Don't have any more crazy parties."

Truthfully, it's probably more like:
"Don't eat carrots from the relish tray at your crazy parties!!!"
Yeah, it was pretty horrific. But, I tried to be a good sport. I even posed for a picture. Nice, huh?

Since the whole fiasco happened on a Saturday, I had to get it on with my big bad hill-billy self for the remainder of the weekend. Fortunately, I wasn't in pain. I was just... well... ugly.

I tried to paste the crown back into my mouth with some dental adhesive. But, that didn't work so well. The tooth would stay in for about 2 hours and then fall out again. So, eventually, I gave up.

When I went to the dentist on Monday, they pulled my tooth and provided me with a handy-dandy temporary bridge.

At this point, you can hardly tell that I'm a hill-billy. But, we all have our secrets, right?

Tuesday

The Diaper Bag Diva: Interview and Giveaway

*** This Giveaway is now CLOSED ***

Even though we don't have children ourselves, we're surrounded by friends and family who have great little broods. And we're always on the look-out for snazzy gifts to give them.

A couple of weeks ago, we came across a great new Web site called The Diaper Bag Diva -- which carries designer diaper bags and baby gear that definitely won't break the bank. I exchanged a few emails with the "Diaper Bag Diva" herself, Ms. Kaydee Ivers, and I found out that she's a really cool lady -- with a great vision for both her life and business. She has three ADORABLE children. And she creates the best bags (honestly -- I'm tempted to buy one for myself!)

We love it when we can give a little boost to great little independent businesses who seem to be carrying a superior product for a fair price. So, we decided to give you a little more information about Kaydee's business. AND Kaydee has generously offered to host a giveaway. One LUCKY READER will receive an item(s) worth up to $40 from Kaydee's site absolutely free.

How do you enter? You MUST do three things (incomplete entries will NOT be chosen).
  1. Read our interview with Kaydee below to find more about her business.
  2. Visit her Web site, The Diaper Bag Diva. Check out the products and find your favorite bag or accessory (under $40).
  3. Come back to this blog post and leave a comment telling us about the product you chose and why you think it's the best thing ever! If you do not have a blog with an email address listed (or we do not know you personally), please include your email address with your comment/entry so that we can contact you if you are a winner.
Extra Entries:
  1. Tweet about this giveaway and be sure to link back to this post. After you've tweeted, come back here and leave the link to your tweet in a separate comment. You may do this once per day until the end of the contest.
  2. Announce the giveaway on your blog; be sure to include a link back to this post. Then leave a separate comment (with a link to your blog) letting me know that you posted!
  3. Subscribe to this blog's feed. Or you can follow "News From Peef & Lo" through Blogger or subscribe via email (widget is on sidebar). Then leave a separate comment telling me you did so.
Limitations:
This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. You do not need to be a blogger to enter, but you must have a valid email address and be age 18 years or older. If you enter anonymously and do not include a valid email address in your comment entries, I will not be able to notify you should you win this random drawing.

We'll accept entries for the giveaway until Friday (7/31) at 10pm CST. The winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced on or before Sunday, August 2nd.

Lo : How long have you been in business?
Kaydee: I started this business around the first part of June, this year.

Lo: What inspired you to start your own business?
Kaydee: I have always wanted to stay at home with my kids; but during this economic climate, I felt that it would be great to contribute to the family finances. So I figured starting my own business presented a great option which allowed me the freedom to do the two things I love at the same time!

Lo: What makes your products special/different from the competition?
Kaydee: It seems to me that diaper bags range from one end of the spectrum to another in everything from price to style. My goal is to offer stylish diaper bags that you won't be afraid to spill a little milk on :).

Lo: What IS a “Diaper Bag Diva”?
Kaydee: Ha ha, this question makes me chuckle. To be honest, I am probably the farthest thing from a "diva" even a diaper bag one. Forgive me for my honesty, but I chose the name because it is catchy, but I think that it is important for moms to maintain a sense of style and not lose themselves in the middle of motherhood. Motherhood is hard. It's truly rewarding, but difficult. So, if you can have one fun piece that makes you feel a little bit more "stylish," then life may get a little softer around the edges. On the other hand, if you are one of those "already hip mammas," these bags will accent your already fabulous style

Lo: What did you do before YOU became the Diaper Bag Diva?
Kaydee: Pretty much the same thing I still do, with a little less time on the computer. I have three beautiful, high energy children (need I say more)? Well, since this is an interview, I guess I will, I do laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, diaper changing, etc. . . Prior to that, I graduated Utah State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education, and my husband and I have owned several of our own businesses including a couple pizza restaurants and a home flipping business.

Lo: What is the next step for your business?
Kaydee: I would love to increase my product line, but I want to keep the business end of it personal. I love hearing what women want, the products they like, and what they don't like, after all, am in the same boat most of my customers are in, and I never want to alienate myself from that.

Lo: What are your secrets to balancing work/home life?
Kaydee: I am still working on that! For me, work always comes second. I don't know if that is the best thing to say in an interview about my business, but I have to put my family first. They are who I am doing this for, and if it means that I can't take the time to meet their needs, it isn't worth doing. My balance comes between 1:00-4:00, NAP-TIME!


Monday

Speaking of Growing Power: Urban Farms for Urban Schools

Milwaukee Public Schools Division of School Nutrition recently partnered with Growing Power to provide farm-fresh produce for MPS students throughout the school year.

The Milwaukee Recreation Department recently filmed a video describing the program and illustrating students' responses to this innovative concept.

Check it out!


This isn't the first time that Growing Power has joined forces with MPS. In 2008, the program paired up with Bradley Technical High School to build and urban agricultural training space atop a "green" garage in the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee. Plans for the garage included a year-round roof-top garden. Solar panels on a rooftop shed were planned to provide energy for heating water and soil for winter food production in the rooftop hoop-houses.

Wednesday

True Growing Power: Will Allen and the Good-Food Movement

I absolutely LOVE it that Will Allen and Growing Power made it to the New York Times Magazine last week. And it was no "small potatoes" article either.

Now, this isn't the first time that Will Allen has made the headlines. Last October, I wrote about Growing Power as part of my Blog Action Day article. Allen had just received a $500,000 MacArthur Fellow award to support his work. And the New York Times published an article about his accomplishments. But, judging from the content of the July article, people are really starting to take notice.



If you're not familiar with Growing Power, I'd encourage you to do some reading. And check out their Web site. This humble non-profit organization works 24/7 with the mission of providing equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. GP is part of what's been called the "good-food movement." And their vision has helped countless people across the country to establish systems of growing, marketing, and distributing food in sustainable ways.

Their farm produces produce which is grown and distributed locally ALL YEAR LONG (which means I can buy locally grown lettuce and sprouts even on the coldest February days!). If that's not exciting enough, Growing Power also manages programs like the Market Basket Program, which works similarly to a CSA to supply (affordable) sustainable produce year-round to interested families. They even operate a subset of the program at Marquette University -- ensuring that interested college students can benefit from fresh produce, even while living in college apartments and dorms.

Growing Power has to be, hands down, one of my favorite local organizations. Not only because Will Allen and his staff produce such amazing produce (they do!), but also because they do it with such vigor and incredible passion. These are people who REALLY care about what they're doing. And it shows.

Allen predicts that because of high unemployment and the recent food scares, 10 million people will plant gardens for the first time this year. But two million of them will eventually drop out, he said, when the potato bugs arrive or the rain doesn’t cooperate. Still, he was sanguine. “The experience will introduce those folks to what a tomato really tastes like, so next time they’ll buy one at their greenmarket. And when we talk about farm-worker rights, we’ll have more advocates for them.” (excerpted from NYTM article)

Growing Power isn't about real food for rich people. It's about real food for ALL people. And isn't that the point?

Thankfully, we're not the only ones who are excited. Read what Food Renegade has to say about this article. And check out all the great posts at Real Food Wednesday.

Thursday

There are MORE than 25 Songs

Sometimes being married is funny.
Just the other day, I posted my 25 songs I "can't live without," (a.k.a. the first 25 of my favorite/most important for one reason or another) on Facebook. I thought I did a pretty good job capturing songs that had real significance in my life. However, when I got home, Peef informed me that my list was pretty incomplete.

Me: "What was wrong with it?"
Peef: "Your list was alright. You just forgot some pretty major stuff, that's all."

I rolled my eyes, but let him talk.
Me: "Like what?"

Peef: "What about Del Amitri?"
Me: "mmm. Good one. I forgot about them."
Peef: "And how about the Borrowers?"
Me: "missed them too. it was pretty hard to keep it to just 25."

And then Ipod joined in on the harassment by playing "Apart" by the Cure. Yeesh. That song shaped the beginnings of our relationship in college.

Peef: "And you TOTALLY forgot about The Cure. I'm totally offended."


Anyhow -- apparently, my list isn't terribly comprehensive. But, if you ask me, it's a decent start. Enjoy!

25 songs:
(post the artist, song & youtube link)

1. "Being Boring" -- Pet Shop Boys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMtPu6QyRzQ

2. "Untouchable Face" -- Ani DiFranco
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc4eYOhNnU8

3. "Rock Me Amadeus" -- Falco
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trOij8SPIAo

4. "All This Useless Beauty" -- Elvis Costello
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhoLqfNjgpE

5. "Close But No Cigar" -- Thomas Dolby
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rf_wrz1i34

7. "Birdhouse in Your Soul" -- They Might Be Giants
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWw4azYTTm8

8. "Kitchen" -- Lemonheads
Live performance/Evan Dando http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_UZU8sAxSM
Lyrics: http://www.lyricstime.com/lemonheads-kitchen-lyrics.html

9. "All I Want" --- Toad the Wet Sprocket
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0e_clbyUbc

10. "If Red Were Blue" -- Brenda Kahn
No YouTube, but here are the lyrics: http://tr.im/plwJ
More on Brenda Kahn: http://tr.im/plu1

11. "Wrapped up in Books" -- Belle and Sebastian
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBU-MxydbWQ

12. "You Suck" -- The Murmurs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfxvHVtMQ_w

13. "Rock the Casbah" -- The Clash
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAkfHShATKY

14. "The Dream Before" -- Laurie Anderson
Another with no YouTube
Lyrics: http://www.lyricstime.com/laurie-anderson-the-dream-before-lyrics.html

15. "Feeling Good" -- Nina Simone
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22kPiPILteQ&feature=related

16. "So Much to Say" -- Dave Matthews Band
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81PfFrl6Ars

17. "A Man is in Love" -- The Waterboys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bucQqV5OIsg&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoGbbKV0hUU

18. "Cat's in the Cradle" -- Johnny Cash
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We1BVMmcr2A

19. "Why Should I Cry for You?" --Sting
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHhZKSoePio&feature=related

20. "You Owe Me Nothing In Return" -- Alanis Morissette
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD6Lo_7HCm0

21. "China" -- Tori Amos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYvslanGwow

22. "Circle" -- Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kpxNXZCLBg

Am trying not to repeat artists -- but if I could pick two, I also love "Love Like We Do":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vz-kcBjgNA&feature=channel

23. "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" -- U2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA0krVJeszE

24. "You Will Be My Ain True Love" -- Allison Krauss
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xABb5uVL2Jg&feature=related

25. "I Am Eve" - Mediaeval Baebes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLsWTBQexWo

Tuesday

Foodie Mascots: The Way of the Future?

William and Mary, known as "The Tribe" since the 1980's, will be changing their school mascot. According to the NCAA, their current feathered logo has to go -- and so they're looking for nominations.

Among the 375 suggestions so far, one suggestion (according to WISN) is an asparagus stalk. Or maybe, as I would suggest, an asparagus "spear."

Could this be a sign of a new foodie mascot trend?

I quote: "The asparagus stalk supporter notes that if served with cheese, the vegetable represents the school colors."

For more information about the mascot search, visit the William & Mary Web site.

Wednesday

The Job Brought Me Home

As most of you know, my last job was probably the most "dream job" I could have ever imagined. However, it's possible that I should have been more aware of the fact that "dream jobs" are just that. When you hear or see something that is too good to be true... ya know?

My new job is a whole new ball of wax. Rather than focusing my energy on selling, I get to really get inside the heads of area business owners to see what makes them tick. They give me information on what works... and what doesn't work. I also spend more of my time attending meetings, events, conferences, and programs than you can imagine.

Yeah, even more than that.
Keep going... keep going...
Yeah, about THAT many... and now add a couple more for good measure.

What I like MOST about this job is that I work Downtown.
When I drive in to work in the morning, the first thing I do is find a spot in the cement jungle. I secure my car in the parking structure, take the elevator down to street level, and that's when it hits me. As I walk the 1/2 block to the office, I catch a whiff of the city.

Most days, it's that wet, fishy smell that reminds you that you're just a few blocks away from Lake Michigan. But, on other days, my nostrils fill with the odor of a freshly fired wood-burning oven that emanates from one of the local eateries. On days like that, I find myself feeling almost nostalgic. My scent memories take over -- and suddenly, I'm pulled back to those cool spring days I spent on my travels to Seattle. The days when I woke up, first thing, and enjoyed my eggs with a side of tender wine-braised octopus. The days when I didn't need coffee to get me going... but, coffee was EVERYWHERE if I wanted it.

As I walk, I realize that there's a lot I love about this city that smells of beer and ale wives. Cuz it's not just beer and ale wives.
My job has opened me up to a new way of looking at Milwaukee. I'm meeting new people. Seeing old places with new eyes. Getting around to all the hidden little spots I'd typically overlook because I've lived here too long. I've become a tourist (of sorts) in my own city. And that's pretty kewl.

So far, that's what the new job is like. It's new. It's good. And it's fun.
It's the best of the past... and the promise of the future. All rolled into one. And it's made me genuinely appreciate this city that I call home.

Srsly. What could be better than that?

My Soul to Keep

This past weekend we buried my uncle. And I found myself getting into that thoughtful mode that occurs when someone close to me has passed on.

The fact is, death make me pensive.
Not sad.
Not morose.
Pensive.

Certainly, there was much to consider. My uncle was well loved by those who knew him. Those who cracked his crusty exterior found him a bit gooey inside -- and anyone who took the time, found him to possess an exceedingly big heart. In addition to being a worthwhile human being, he served his country well in the armed forces. And he had a great faith that saw him through the tragic journey we call life.

We respected his wishes and buried him as he saw fit.
We celebrated a life well-lived, and we cried for the loss of it.
And then, I got to thinking about my own mortality. And what I might want when my time comes... and I pass along into the ether. And I began to wonder if my vision is anything like what people might expect.

Most people who know me realize that I'm a hopeless food geek, so I'm fairly sure everyone would expect me to dream up some stuffy food-filled affair. But the truth is, when I imagine my farewell, I don't imagine anything stuffy.

I want people to eat thoughtless things at my funeral. And I want them to enjoy them -- without care for cholesterol or calories or trans-fats. Let all of that be set aside in favor of celebration.

I want hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough.
And mini cheesecakes made in muffin tins.
And peanut butter right from the jar -- eaten with abandon from teaspoons.
I want chai flavored chocolate.

I want giggling.
I know that you can't keep loved ones from crying (if, indeed, they did love) -- but I want mischievous laughter for all the times we spent creating. And scheming. And frolicking in our silly underpants.

You need not have a viewing. Or a burial.
My cremains can be scattered in some lovely place. Like in the tulip gardens that surrounded that football field in Mt. Vernon, Iowa... remember the one? We picked tulips there at midnight and filled our dorms with their lipstick red.

And the memories?
I want people to remember the whimsy. To pick up that box of collected shells and think about the oceans I dared dip my toes into. To read the dusty books from my library and dream the dreams I once wrote about. The ones I lived. The ones I didn't.

I want everyone to return home with a smirk -- and dare to be more than they imagined possible. To dance. To sing. To write. To remember.

To Live.

Tuesday

I know...

You want to hear all about the new job. Well...it's going really well. More on that in a bit. I just stumbled across something amazing and I thought I should share. This is srsly cool.

You can find the collection here.

I'll be back in a little bit to tell you all about what I have been up to in the past couple of months.

Friday

Delhi to Dublin

Amazing international fusion going on here.

I'm thinking we need to start an email campaign to get these guys to Milwaukee.
Irish fest, anyone??



Delhi to Dublin Web Site

Thursday

How to Succeed at Networking Without Really Trying

There are a variety things in this world of which I am not fond. One of the big ones is networking.

Interestingly enough, Peef's new job is ALL ABOUT networking and elbow rubbing. It's about knowing the right people and meeting more of the right people. It's about connections and communities and getting the right people together at the right time.

Peef is energized by the prospect of meeting new people every day. He looks forward to socializing and schmoozing and being an all around fun guy. On the other hand, just thinking about it makes ME very, very tired.

I'm the sort of person who has a few very close friends, and a great number of acquaintances. I tend to be a very loyal person, and I'm pretty dedicated when it comes to cultivating friendships. I pour a lot of energy into maintaining my friends, keeping contact with them, and creating quality experiences where we can interact, and grow, and change together. I have a much harder time when it comes to more shallow relationships.

On an intellectual level, I know that networking doesn't HAVE to be a stressful experience. Networking, at its best, is about developing relationships. It's about connecting and listening, and helping out. It's about exchanging value. And I'm GOOD at those things. So, why is networking so stressful for me?

I should be able to relax and enjoy the process of meeting new people, right? Yeah well, I can't relax.

I don't know these people. They don't know me. It's highly unlikely they're GOING to know me after a half-hour, or even 2 hours of quality contact. And, ultimately, I need to don the eternal smile and be interminably “nice” if my networking is going to be even remotely effective. The process is exhausting!

All of that said, it looks like my new life is going to include some networking events. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm definitely in need of some tips and tricks to keep the process from wearing me down.

Any great advice to share?

Wednesday

The Big Hurrah! And Something to Read

First -- the BIG NEWS. Peef is employed!! (And just look at him -- who could resist?) He got a job and started this week. He's been too busy to post the news, but I thought it was too awesome NOT to share. That said, I'm going to let HIM post the details as he sees fit.

On another note, I glimpsed something fun today while I was poking around the Internets. It's a great article about Milwaukee that appeared in Air Tran's in-flight magazine, GO. Fun trivia and great information about all the cool stuff that's going on in Milwaukee.

Very recently, someone commented to me that only two kinds of people dislike Milwaukee -- those who have lived here all of their lives and those who have never been here. And it's really true. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say -- and people who've never left the city won't appreciate what they miss when they leave. On the other hand, people who've never been to Milwaukee can't imagine that we're something more than a rusty old industrial town that smells like cheese.

Of course, some of us know better.
Milwaukee is really one of the better kept secrets of the Midwest.

Read it here: On the Town -- Milwaukee

Honestly -- it's validating for those of us who live here and LOVE our city. It might also be inspiration for those of you who haven't visited, but really should.

Monday

Open Letters

Inspired by Jess over at Floor 22: The Annex.

Here's some open letters that summarize my life/our life lately.
  • Dear Pocketbook: You are more full than you think. After all, life is more than the green we keep. Love, Lo
  • Dear Elmo: Thanks for being a constant reminder of how important independence is. And cleanliness. With Gratitude, Lo
  • Dear Spring: It's time. Honestly, Lo
  • Dear Colleagues: Thanks for all of your support. I wouldn't have expected it, but it's been incredible. Couldn't have gotten through it without you. Seriously, Lo
  • Dear leftover corned beef (which finally ended up in the freezer): It's not because we don't love you. Our life has just taken a lot of unexpected turns when it comes to dinner. We'll revisit you soon. I promise. With sincerity, Lo
  • Dear Prospective Cohort Members: I promise you you won't regret it. Truly, Lo
  • Dear Those People: Please don't make us wait any longer. Desperately, Lo
  • Dear Universe: We're ready for the Good Stuff. Honest. Sincerely, Lo

Unbelievable how much can be expressed in such a small amount of space. Got some of your own to share?

Tuesday

Meet My Hero: Alice Waters

It's about time someone spoke up in the mainstream about the importance of eating real food. And leave it to my hero, Alice Waters, to do the talking.

Watch CBS Videos Online

It's funny. So much of the "real food" movement seems intuitive to me. It's getting back to our roots. Remembering what our grandparents and great-grandparents ate. Understanding that those things were far superior (nutritionally, environmentally) to the prepared foods we're all too accustomed to eating in this day and age. We're certainly NOT perfect. But, I like the fact that we're trying to get back to basics. And I really do think it makes a difference.

It does make me sad to recognize that so many people feel that eating real food is both time-consuming and expensive. In my experience, it doesn't have to be either of those things. In fact, letting go of the packaged, processed, fake foods is pretty liberating.

My opinion: it's one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our world.

What do you think?

A Farewell: to the last bits of snow in my yard


As the morning sun rises above the neighbor's fence, I bid you well. It was nice of you to cover the ground during the holidays. It sure did make it feel that much more festive. And remember that time when Lo and I came outside and we twirled around as you were landing? Yeah, that was a good time. We collected your flakes on our hands and shared them with each other to see if we could find one that matched. But no...you are too clever with your geometry. You fascinate me and excite me, and I appreciate the moisture you now provide the ground as it wakens from its long winter's slumber.

However, once again I have grown tired of you. I know you may come back yet for an encore performance. But for now, let us depart as friends before I change my mind. After all, you did try to kill me a few months back when you fell from the sky all wet and heavy like. You really did make me quite angry. But I forgive you. I know you were just doing what you needed to do. For being just crystalline water ice, you sure are high maintenance.

with much love and respect,
peef

Mashup

Here's a nice mashup of the Beatles, LCD Soundsystem and the Kinks. Enjoy!

Friday

Bow-chicka-wowow: Getting Busy on the Weekend

Getting started on the weekend a bit early over here. Makin' some Sweet Routan Baby Love. Virtually Foolproof. heh.

Meet the newest Lil Fredrich.

Create Your OwnMake a Routan Baby

Sunday

Peef and Lo at the Car Show

How did we spend our weekend?
Well... we made up some mighty fine fried chicken. AND, we also gawked at kewl cars.

Despite our usually calm dispositions, we go a little bit crazy when surrounded by so many fine automobiles.
Fortunately for us, a little bit of craziness is actually condoned at the car show. And we were happy to see that the experience was intended to be "hands on"...We were delighted with all the cool spaces that we could explore. Like this mini-van that came equipped with sleeping quarters...
... although there were times when we got a bit carried away fondling all the shiny new objects...
We looked at big cars. And little cars. And dumb cars. And...
Smart Cars! We love us a seriously intelligent auto. Perfect for a Sunday drive in the park.
Despite the fact that there were cars EVERYWHERE, we did A LOT of walking...
And maybe a little TOO much waving...
We enjoyed the cool breezes blowing through our hairs...
And the view through the sun roof of a car that we could NEVER afford...
Sometimes, the price tags caused a bit of sticker shock.
Fortunately, there was plenty at the car show that made us HAPPY!!!
... including this great little diddy.What did YOU do this weekend??

Tuesday

Yay for Cake!

There's nothing bigger than celebrating your ninth birthday. Which is why Peef and Lo set to work creating the most amazing cake they could dream up.

Chocolate chip pound cake, filled with whipped chocolate ganache... and glazed with semisweet chocolate. Enjoy!






HAPPY BIRTHDAY "O"!!

[get your fill -- more cake photos over at BURP!]

Pontifications on Honest Work

Today was a Bad Day at work.
I won't go into everything that means -- except to say that today I was having a very difficult time being grateful for my employment. And that gave me a bit of pause.

Being grateful is something that I've committed to ever since Peef's job was whisked away in late November (many thanks to the Benevolent Dictator who left us with this gasping economy). After all, it seems I shouldn't have much to complain about when I'm making a fair wage for honest work. It can be remarkably fulfilling to leave WORK AT WORK at night and enjoy my passions AT HOME. Plus, I've always been adament that I'm NOT a careerist who needs her work to define her.

So, rather than dwelling on the BADness of my day, I'm going to take a moment to reflect. And I am going to recommit myself. To good, honest work.

In this time. In this place.
I have NO right to complain.

Maybe Todd Rundgren said it best?


That said, if any curious business owners are reading this and want to pay me a ridiculous amount of money to pontificate (or better yet, write marketing copy), I still have seven cell minutes left before we go over our allotment for the month.

Thursday

From the Ears of Your Favorite Peef: New Music for the New Year

I've been blessed with an unusual amount of spare time lately...ok. NOT REALLY. I have actually been busting my hump trying to find a job, but I've also managed to spend a little bit of time staying current with the music scene.

Today I bring you a group of bands that you may have already heard of but who all have something very special in common. EVERY ONE OF THEM has an odd band name. And we aren't talking Phish or Dead Milkmen odd, we are talking about bands that simply chose names that have little relation to their musical sound.

Band names always seem to conjure a specific mental image for me... and I can't be the only one who wonders what the heck they were thinking when the look and feel of said band and the mental image conjured by the band name simply DO NOT mesh.

This Christmas, my sis dubbed me with a handy-dandy little gift card to iTunes. This much appreciated gift went to good use just as the year (that shall no longer be mentioned) was coming to a close. Because there was a limit on the card, I found it necessary to spend my budget wisely.

The first thing I did was to make a list. Unfortunately, that did NOT help. The list grew and grew and grew. One evening, I showed it to Lo and she looked upon the lengthy list with a great deal of amazement.

"I have never heard of half of these bands" she said to me. "Are you sure you want ALL of these?" she continued.

"Of course I want them" I responded, "They are ALL the best and most talked about new bands that came to mind in the past twelve hours."

"I think you should start narrowing it down," she suggested, "Maybe start with the ones whose CD's you could live without. After all, these are DOWNLOADS."

I have to interject here. I am still a bit "old school" and like to have the physical CD, rather than just an audio file. It's not that I don't enjoy the inst-o-matic approach to downloading music, I just want to have a hard copy of it for posterity. I want a MUSIC COLLECTION. For me, a CD collection is immediately revealing. The ability to browse through the collection of CD's in my friend's living room is far less invasive than hopping on their personal computer to snoop around in their audio files.

Lo did not feel any great amount of compassion for my plight.

"Well, good luck with that," she smirked, and she sauntered away.

After weeding out all of the bands I decided I needed to possess physical evidence of... and then the ones that for whom owning a single song would do, I narrowed my selections down to two.

The Airborne Toxic Event was a band recommended to me a few months back by a good friend in Seattle. I trust her recommendations, and after taking a listen on myspace, I decided they made the cut.

Vampire Weekend is not ONLY one of the most press-worthy bands of 2008, but they were also recommended (and hence, VALIDATED) by our VERY hip friends in Fargo, ND. Seriously, folks. Fargo IS the Promised Land, after all. And, if you don't believe me, just take a listen for yourselves. Thanks to sattelite raido, these Fargo-nians have great taste in music.

Another animal altogether is Girl Talk (Check it out at www.illegalart.net). Don't be fooled by the "pay what you like" mentality on his Web site, Gregg Gillis is seriously good. And so is his laptop, which he has affectionately named Girl Talk. King of mash-up (the art of taking rap/hip-hop and mashing it with top40/alternative/classic rock tunes), Girl Talk puts together some funky tunes -- things that will make you want to get up off the couch and do some serious grooving. Sensitive souls might be wary of a bit of the foul language that leaks in, thanks to liberal sampling of rappers like Too Short (don't ask). But, if you can overlook that, it's all golden. The New York Times Magazine has called his music "a lawsuit waiting to happen"... and bloggers everywhere have discussed whether his blatant "rip offs" are worth getting uptight about. Personally, I'm not getting my undies in a bundle. Gregg is just FAR too fun. Interested? Check out more at the Future of Music Coalition.

Now, I've rambled on for quite some time already. But, I have one last thing to share with those of you who've kept with me this far... I'd also like to give a shout-out to Neko Case, who happens to be featured in the February issue of Paste Magazine, where you can read all about the piano orchestra that she threw together in her barn. Since I'm a big fan of The New Pornographers (again, what's WITH these odd band names??!!), Neko is a natural pick for me. Her last solo album, Fox Confessor, showcases smart vocals and haunting instrumentation. But, she's also got a new album coming out. Middle Cyclone releases on March 3rd, and I'm totally looking forward to it.

You've made it this far, which is a serious accomplishment.
AND it just so happens that I can offer you something for your trouble.
Take a listen to "People Got a Lot of Nerve" -- Neko's new single.
In exchange, Neko Case will make a $5 donation to Best Friends Animal Society. Isn't that nice of her??

Enjoy!
Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve

This week's list of GOOD things

It always helps to make a list!
  1. Interviews (of the job getting persuasion)
  2. A working computer (mine has been down for much of the afternoon, so I'm feeling this pretty intimately)
  3. Tamale pie
  4. Ripe avocadoes
  5. Coffee on a cold morning
  6. Sunshine when it's -15ºF
  7. The prospect of good news
  8. Hand-made dish cloths
  9. Roll-over minutes (We went over our cell minutes for the first time ever last month, and now I'm thinking these are pretty keen)
  10. Healthy kitties (Elmo gave us a good scare this week, but we're pleased to say that he seems to be feeling better)

Tuesday

Happy 2009!

Alright, we're signing on to 2009 a bit late... but we wanted to make sure it was really real before we spread false hope.

So now that we have officially slammed the door of 2008 shut tight and secured the deadbolt and threw away the key...Lo and I can forge ahead with 2009. Because we have put 2008 under locks, there is no point in reviewing the year and all of its...I just can't.

OK. The Nastiness of 2008 is done. Let's move on.
Here's to 2009!!

We have a new outlook on life. Prospects of a new job. Maybe a new car? Maybe a new city to live in? Who knows? Anything is possible when you're standing on the cusp.

The job hunt has been very successful -- considering the economic factor and the holiday factor. I've had a number of interviews, and new things crop up all the time. Things aren't moving QUITE as quickly as I would like, but you've gotta take what you can get. Indubitably, the job search will continue to wear on ... until that glorious day when a written offer is finally in my hands. Let's pray for that moment, shall we?

Lo is back at work after a nice long time away during the holidays. "Work is work," as she says; but, these days she's thankful to be working in a relatively recession-proof industry. Her job has been a bit "stressy," but she's off and running with her recruitment activities, and hopes to get a cohort together for summer 2009.

Elmo, Zoe, Izzie and Yoyo don't seem to realize that we've made the transition to a new year. But, they did get excited when we took down the Krimmus tree and gave them back their beautiful, sunny turret. Now, they're free to lie about, all lazy-like, in between their regular eating and poo-ing.

The house... is still standing.
The snow... is still falling.
And the music... is still playing.

Thank God for the music.