Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 00 - Music 2005-2009

I'm back with part two recap of shows I saw from 2005-2009. When I started to write this, I realized, crap, I'm not going to see many artists but I'm seeing the artists I really really like now. I mostly find out about bands through or friends.  When the Sasquatch Festival announced their 2005 line-up, it had many of the artists I had fell in love with on the line-up and it was my first chance to finally see Wilco.

2005  - Sasquatch Festival - The Gorge
Finally a chance to see Wilco along with The Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Bloc Party, Jem, Pixies, Kanye West and Ray Lamontagne. The Pixies were the headling band. It was scorching hot – over 100 degrees but we survived. The bad thing about this festival, the SOUND WAS AWFUL. No one sounded good. I felt like a million miles away from the bands. I remember getting up and leaving during Kanye West. I had NO idea who he was. Bloc Party played before Wilco and they booed Wilco.

I remember Jeff Tweedy coming out in a suit (it was 100 degrees) and saying something about “thanks for the warm welcome.” Their set was riddled with sound problems and later I saw on YouTube Glen Kotche saying he will never play that festival or the Gorge again. I was not ready to give up on a live Wilco show, I told my husband. We were both disappointed and hope the band wouldn't break up because we knew they could put on an amazing show.

The show steelers were the Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="My husband, the gorilla"]My husband, the gorilla[/caption]

2006 The Flaming Lips/Beck/Ween Les Schwab

When the summer line-up was announced and were pulling two of my favorite artists from the Sasquatch Festival - Beck and The Flaming Lips, I was ecstatic! My husband immediately went out and found a gorilla costume to rent and we tagged along with some friends. Imagine rolling down the road in a convertible Mustang with a man in a gorilla suit. Pretty wild. Anyway, the show was amazing. There were santas and animals bouncing around on stage and of course, the crazy balloon action in the crowd. They played the stand-bys and I didn't want to the show to end of until they played "war pigs" by black sabbath. What a downer to end the show on.

I can not remember but I think Beck played the next night or maybe the night before the Flaming Lips. Anyway, this was the tour with the puppet show which was really cool and trippy. This was a way different more energized show than the one in the years past on the "Sea Change" tour.

A couple months later, we went to see Ween at LSA. Ween is one of my favorite bands that I don't listen to much anymore. I think I need to change that. I sat in the VIP beer garden with Kina while our husbands went off to get into the crowd. This was my first Ween show and I didn't know what to expect. I had a chance to see them in 1999 but I can't remember why I didn't go. The show was pretty mellow until the sun went down where it got all sorts of crazy.

2007 - Arcade Fire Arlen Snitzer Portland Oregon

The Arcade Fire was so amazing at the Sasquatch Festival (minus the horrible sound) that while having a weekend away in Portland, we got tickets to see them perform with Electrolane. The energy this group puts out in their songs is amazing. We were on the balcony and it was shaking up there so much we thought the balcony would come crashing down! Ooops.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Wilco amps at Edgefield show"]Wilco amps at Edgefield show[/caption]

2007 - Wilco, Edgefield Portland Oregon

Have you ever been to Edgefield? Its an adult amusement park -- a brewery, distillery and winery all in one. In the spring when I found out Wilco would be indeed playing Edgefield I reserved our room before we got the tickets. We showed up at 2 p.m. and Wilco was doing the sound check. We sat on the side porch of the building and listened, later to find out we COULD HAVE WENT INTO THE SOUND CHECK. Lame. I had one too many drinks before the show but I do remember it as we were only feet from the stage. This was the first time I yelled Breedlove and I did say something in my drunken stupor about if I get pregnant that night I'm naming my son Jeff or Glenn. Wilco didn't disappoint. They made up for the poor show at the Sasquatch Festival and that night played a show with Minus 5 in the bar on the Edgefield property. Too bad I had passed out from too much Black Rabbit Red. I felt horrible the next day but it was worth it.

2008 Wilco LSA Bend Oregon

I totally have an excuse for not seeing many shows in 2007/2008. I had my son in May 2008 so I knew that my travel would be limited this year. Have no fear, LSA announced the day my boss walked outat work that Wilco would be playing in my home town (what a great way to pick up an 8 month pregnant woman). Yay! Just needed a sitter. Two people tried to get us back stage but the band wasn't staying after the show and were headed to SF for some festival. BLAH. The show was magical. We were just feet from the stage. I was sober this time and even got to yell Breedlove.  I remember requesting "Summerteeth" on the website and being delighted it was played. There wasn't too much Jeff Tweedy witty banter but he did make a comment that Bend's weather was amazing and he wouldn't give a plug for Breedlove guitars.

2009 Wilco Britt Pavillion Jacksonville OR

I have a blog post about this show so I'll let you read what I said then about this amazing show. I don't think anything could ever top how amazing this show was ...
We left Lil B with his aunt to spend the day and night. This was hard and damn it, Wilco is a band I would leave my child with his aunt so I could enjoy. We also hired a Britt Sitter (someone you pay $20 to stand in line for you so you can be one of the 150 ppl they allow to sit in the front) to stand in position until we arrived. After a game of shuffleboard in which Ryan and I killed my husband and Ethan, we headed up the hill to the Britt Pavilion. In 4th position was our faithful sitter -- there was no way we would not get front row. We listened to the sound check, Brian tell his "Pearl Jam story" and game of quoting "Anchorman" while waiting 90 mins for the gate to open. In preparation for the hot Southern Oregon climate, I drank a lot of water and had to find the bathroom. On my way back, I spotted the emo looking dude from Wilco (Pat Sansone, at the time I couldn't remember his name) walking down the road. I wanted to stop him and get a photo but I was alone so I told him "have a great show" and he said thanks. A little starstuck, I went back to my #5 position (Ethan had #4, Brian had #6) and waited.

The Britt folks take care of their members. They lined us up outside the venue and prepped us so we could run and grab our spots. We ran and grabbed front and center!!!! The cool thing is the stage is only raised a foot above the ground which meant we were pretty much gonna be eye-level with Wilco!!! More waiting, through the open act and then the prep for Wilco and then, they entered the stage. I said to Brian "um, Jeff Tweedy isn't very tall" and there were many exchanges about his Breedlove Guitars (which Brian plays and are made in Bend).

Words can't explain how cool it was to experience the show from front and center. The songs were amazing as Wilco knows how to put on a show. Twice, Jeff Tweedy was inches from me, within reach. The first time Jeff Tweedy came down during Spiders (kidsmoke) and had the kid RIGHT NEXT TO ME play his guitar. I was a little awestruck that a guitar playing legend was with in INCHES of me. After the show, he came up to the kid, STILL RIGHT NEXT TO ME, and handed him the guitar pick. The kid is one of the many Britt Sitters you can hire. He was #3 in line with us (I was #5) and was really excited for the show. One last thing, this show was so awesome that it knocked the Radiohead show I saw at Red Rocks in 2001 out of the #2 spot.

My friend Ethan, who went with us, asked me the other day "Are you sure your favorite band isn't Wilco?" If U2's album this year would have been good, I don't think I'd be into Wilco so much right now and my husband agrees as he's seen me even more fanatical over U2 and Radiohead.  BUT the next show will probably put me over the edge on the fanatical side as now we're flying to see a member of Wilco ...

2009 Son Volt Domino Room Bend OR

I'm not a Son Volt fan as you can read the whole post here. I went to this show really without an open mind but I ended up enjoying it though everyone around me was talking about the Tweedy/Farrar rivalry. I was a little mad about this because how rude is that to the artist preforming? Pretty fitting that just a few weeks later, I'm seeing his rival's live solo show. Anyway, Son Volt's sent went like this ... a few slow songs and then a rocking song. A few slow songs and then a rocking song.  This almost inspired an Ignite presentation on the Monsters of Alt Country Rock but I'm pretty sure everyone in Bend is sicking of hearing me talk about it.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Jeff Tweedy solo show"]Jeff Tweedy solo show[/caption]

2009 Jeff Tweedy Orpheum Theatre Phoenix AZ

I'm not going to say much about this show as I have a whole post coming soon. I'm letting this show marinate and I'm thinking about it. A Jeff Tweedy solo is not to be compared with Wilco. You sit down. He makes it feel intimate (even with 2000 people around). And it's almost a comedy show.  Now, I had heard this and but never experienced it. Jeff Tweedy doesn't tour much as a solo act and when he does, it's only for one or two shows. Lucky for us, his sister lives in Phoenix and he decided to do a show while visiting. I definitely have more to say so stay tuned.

So this raps up the decade of shows I attended. In 2010, I've already purchased U2 (June!!)  and Wilco (February) tickets. If Wilco plays this summer, we probably won't go unless it's in Bend. I'm holding out for Radiohead to play this and maybe the Flaming Lips! They definitely won't come to Bend to play so we'd have to travel. There are definitely bands I'm interested in seeing like the Avett Brothers and Phoenix but traveling is going to be out of the question for a while until the little one can attend concerts and enjoy them (maybe when he's 10?)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Did you even have to guess?

Guess what I checked off my bucket list? I mean, did you even have to guess? Here are a few gems from the show ...

Full post to come --It's more for me than you so you don't have to read it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best of 00 - Music 2000-2004

When I go to concerts, it’s go big or go home. After thinking about it, I’ve hardly seen shows in either of the places I have lived – Bend or Omaha. I’ve been known to fly across country to see a band play (U2) or drive eight hours (Radiohead).  I just don’t spend my money on any band or artist. It’s a carefully thought out process. So here goes the great shows of the past decade … and no, you won’t be surprised by who I have went to see.

2000 - Phish: Alpine Valley Amphitheatre
Phish shows are an experience like no other (unless you went to Dead shows). The pre-party is all the rage. You have to get there hours before to enjoy the moment. Full on shakedown streets, people peddling everything from shrooms to veggie burritos and then the unofficial Phish shirts and tape trading.  The show opened with “Punch you in the Eye” and I only remember this because a few years later Phish released this show live. I often listen to it to get into the Phish vibe mood.

2001 - Radiohead at Red Rocks with The Beta Band
Readers of my old blog know the tale of this show. Shannon gets a new car. Shannon’s boyfriend of the moment gets tickets to Radiohead (I think we were in the first 10 rows. I can't find the ticket stub ANYWHERE). We drive to 8 hours. The show rocks. I end up with a THE famous rainbow sweater scored from a thrift in Golden, Colorado. Boyfriend of the moment spills a Diet Pepsi all over the front seat in my new car. (said BOM was not too happy with my account of this). This show ranked for a while as the second best show I've seen ever (it is now #3). Radiohead is amazing live and seeing opening act Beta Band was just icing on the cake as I loved them a ton at the time (remember the famous line from High Fidelity about the Beta Band?). PLUS it was at Red Rocks.

2002 U2 Elevation Tour – KC/San Jose
How was it the last time I saw MY FAVORITE BAND EVER in 2002? Sheesh that seems so long ago. I thought I blogged about this on the old blog but I guess I didn’t. I flew to San Fran and tagged along with some friends to see U2. U2 is a band who goes big or goes home (hey, just like me) when it comes to shows. Unfortunately, U2 plays the same scripted show every night so when I saw them later in the year in KC with my cousin Bob, I was a little disappointed. I did, however score a press pass (yay for working at an internet company) and got to be in the press pit for the U2 show. That photo of Bono, shot by yours truly (!!!!). The embarrassing thing, my camera was way smaller that everyone elses photo. I was so close to Bono, I could have touched him but I refrained. I was supposed to see U2 in 2004 BUT a snowstorm over the pass forced me to sell my tickets. I’m happy to report I’ll be in attendance at U2’s show this summer in Seattle.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="448" caption="Flaming Lips at LSA"]Flaming Lips at LSA[/caption]

Beck with the Flaming Lips – Lawrence, KS
Finally, a show I actually blogged about! I don’t have to rely on my memory here. I didn’t know I was going to this show until the day of the show. It was sold out and my “friend” (not BOM anymore, but the person who spilled Diet Pepsi in my car) called to say he was taking me to this show (after much begging on my part). (side note: this is same said “friend” who claims and takes credit to have gotten me into Wilco, which is totally untrue as I bought AM/Being There when they came out (1995/96). It’s more like he played Wilco all the time and I just started to like them a bit more than I did before. This is also the person who I was supposed to go to the Omaha Wilco show and well, we got in a fight and I didn’t go as the show which was sold out and he had the tickets. And you’ll never guess what happened next – he had an encounter with JEFF TWEEDY.) OK, back to Beck/Flaming Lips. Here is an account of the show from my old blog:
“Our seats were good and it was nice to sit down most of the time and relax and enjoy the show. “friend” warned me that the flaming lips were crazy and that beck would be really mellow. I wasn't prepared for the flaming lips. They came out with people dressed in animal costumes who were holding up flash lights. Then there were four disco balls going at the same time and the band was shooting the smoke machine out into the crowd. There was also a video screen, shooting various images. i couldn't keep up but it was awesome. Beck came on and he played acoustic for a while until the flaming lips came up as his back up band so beck wasn't depressing, he actually danced all over. I did cry during "lost cause." it was more upbeat than usual but i still did shed a tear. that song is so sad. ugh.”

This is when I formed a love for the Flaming Lips and the main reason why they are my 4th favorite band (2nd favorite American band). They put on an amazing show and their songs are so different from anything out there.

I think I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers this year but I didn’t go by choice. The ticket was free and I just went along. I also saw John Mayer at the Qwest Center in Omaha. I actually didn't want to go to this show but I did go and I did enjoy it. John Mayer IS nice to look at.

I moved to Bend this year. I saw Michael Franti at COCC. It was a good show. Again, the ticket was free and I didn’t know too many people and I needed to get out. I was supposed to see Radiohead that summer but they cancelled all of their shows. I saw the legendary Pixies this year. It was my first concert LSA as a Bend resident. We mostly hung out in the beer garden. I believe the Decemberists opened and I was pissed because I missed it!

OK, 2005 - 2009 is coming up. It includes some of my top shows ever and a lot of Wilco (U2, Radiohead weren't touring much at this time).

Christmas croup

Would you know it ... my kid has been pretty healthy this fall and Tuesday I go to pick him up at daycare to find out he woke up from his long afternoon nap with a cough and a 102 degree fever. Sheesh. The last time Lil B had the croup was on his birthday. Poor little guy. What a great way to start your 19 month of life.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Christmas Croup just plain sucks"]Christmas Croup just plain sucks[/caption]

Around 6 p.m., after the ibuprofen kicked in, the barking seal cough and weezing began. My husband got Lil B in his snowsuit and took him for a jaunt around the neighborhood (cold air is good for the croup). I knew it would a long night. I almost was kicking myself for loaning some of my favorite movies to people because they would have been nice to watch at 2 a.m. when I was snuggling with a cranky toddler on the couch. On three hours of sleep, I went to work. I was lucky enough to get Lil B in early at the pediatrician so he could get the meds needed. When I came home from work, I crushed the pills and put them in pudding but he still didn't want to take them so I had to force the pudding down. NOT FUN. He spent the rest of the evening taking warm steamy showers, cold walks around the block and being really clingy. Around bedtime, he was feeling better.

This morning he woke up really clingy with no fever. I'm really really hoping it's not something else now. Let's hope all this crap goes away before the weekend.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lazy Sunday with toddler

Best of the 00s - Life changes

I toyed around with doing ten posts of each year this decade and then I started to outline the years and what happened and well, some was sorta on the depressing side so I scraped that idea and decided to focus on the most awesome moments of the 2000s in order to keep the post in a positive light. So, here goes with the life changes in this decade.

Bought my first house

In 2001, I bought my first house for a $83,000. To some, $83K for a house is a lot of money and well, people here in Oregon think that is pretty cheap. My Aksarben Dollhouse was 900 square feet, 2 bedrooms with three season porch. It was the perfect home for a single gal, was close to the road biking trails (one summer I biked 800 miles on those trails and I had a rocking body to boot) and centrally located. I had many good and bad times in that house. Once a raccoon woke me up in the middle of the night. Good thing my boyfriend at the time was over and ejected it from my house. I spent months trying to find the perfect house and it was perfect, until I tried to sell it in 2005 (it took six months to sell after an offer fell through).

Changed careers

In 2002, after 9/11 -- the tech bubbled happened. I unfortunately worked for an online city magazine and in April 2002 they informed up that by January we would all be out of jobs. I had worked at Cox Interactive since 1998 (Cox Enterprises since 1997) and loved my co-workers. So, I started looking for a job in public relations which was a shift from being a content developer. I landed a job in July 2002 at the Nebraska Food Bank and I loved it.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="448" caption="Drake Park in the spring"]Drake Park in the spring[/caption]

Moved to Bend

I never intended to move to Bend, OR -- it just happened. I often hear folks say that it just happened and I can relate because it did just happened for me. I had visited my friend in 2000 and really dug the town. In 2003, I decided that after some experience under my belt in public relations/fundraising/marketing I would look into moving. Nothing was keeping me in Nebraska and I felt that it was time to spread my wings. My cousin lived in New York City but that was too big for me but I also liked Chicago as well. Minneapolis was also a contender but when I decided to visit Bend in 2003, I knew Oregon and I were destine to be good ole pals. My decision to move did shock my family and friends but in the end, I loaded up my Saturn and cat Zach in February 2004 and headed West on a two day drive to Bend, Oregon.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Arizona trip 2005"]Arizona trip 2005[/caption]

Met my husband and got married

If you were to tell me that I would move to Oregon and end up married 18 months later, I would laugh at you. I wasn't planning on getting married. After many failed relationships, I just gave up on it. I had heard about this "Slider" character from my friend Greg as they once were roommates and I'm pretty sure I talked to him on the phone when I called to chat it up with Greg. Then on July 4, 2003 this joker rides up on a tricycle.  That joker was my future husband, Brian.  We got to talking and he said he could help me find some job leads and gave me his email address to keep in touch. As the months went by emails turned into phone calls and with Brian moving to Omaha for a bit. In the end, it all worked out and we got married.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Sharing my Youtube addiction with Ben. "]Sharing my Youtube addiction with Ben. [/caption]

I had a baby -- didn't you know?

In October 2007, I woke up feeling awful. The room was spinning and I was horribly motion sick when we'd drive anywhere. I went out and bought a pregnancy test and sure enough, I was going to have a baby. At eight weeks, I had an ultrasound and got to hear "Lilbergers" heartbeat.  (ok, side note -- read that post -- the best things to happen to me in 2007 was a Wilco show at Edgefield and being knocked up. What low standards I have? I'm sure that year was full of amazing things. I did, however, yell to Jeff Tweedy when I was drunk "BREEDLOVE" and "IF I GET KNOCKED UP TONIGHT I'M EITHER NAMING MY KID JEFF OR GLENN"). Anyway, on January 17 we found out we were having a boy and on May 23, Lil B came three weeks early.  Life has definitely changed for the better as he's the cutest lil guy in the whole world.

OK, so there you have it for life changing events. Next up, my favorite concerts of the past decade.  But for now, enjoy this photo of Lil B and mommy.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="180" caption="two days old"]two days old[/caption]

Friday, December 18, 2009

The bucket list

When I was growing up, I always asked for practical items for gifts. Exercise equipment, new tires for my car, measuring cups for baking (a boyfriend was embarrassed to give me this, by the way – it wasn’t romantic but I didn’t make him a nice romantic cake).  I think my mom gave me a word processor the Christmas my freshman year of college because I didn’t like typing up my papers in the UNL’s computer labs. I always want practical. Frivolous is not my thing.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my husband about things I’d like to do before I die. If I could pick ten items, this would be the list (in no particular order):

  • Take a cruise in the Mediterranean

  • Watch the Macy’s parade LIVE in NYC on Thanksgiving day with my children

  • Attend a live solo Jeff Tweedy show

  • Climb South Sister

  • Have a drink with Bono

  • See a Flaming Lips show in Oklahoma

  • Attend a multi-day music festival (Austin City Limits and Pitchfork come to mind)

  • See all of the national parks

  • Travel Europe

  • Write a book

So what does my bucket list have to do with Christmas you might ask? As many know, it has been a tough year and we really haven’t done much for ourselves. Sure we went on some trips but mostly we’ve been trying to keep our family afloat while the future is in question – will my husband EVER find a job? The job market in Bend is tough right now so we’re patiently hoping, wishing, praying something happens soon.

A few weeks back, I got a check in the mail from the parental unit with the rule that I had to blow it on something frivolous and not save the money. It’s hard not to save money right now – we need to save it but I racked my brain.  Then the idea was presented to use it towards something on my bucket list. In order to not jinx it, I will make you all wait until said checking off the list happens but it’s pretty cool and frivolous. Stay tuned. Full report will come.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Divorcing salt

As I have mentioned before, I’ve had some struggles with my blood pressure lately. After trying several medications, it turns out that I have anxiety issues and white coat hypertension. I’m anxious lately due to the lack of a second income in our family (this is not my husband’s fault, there just isn’t anything out there). Still, my blood pressure when I monitor it at home is showing pre-hypertension numbers which is probably because I’m a tad bit on the heavy side. The only ways to lower it in this circumstance would be to cut my sodium intake down to 2300 mg, exercise and do yoga/breathing exercises.

So, I started researching lowering my sodium intake and started tracking my eating on I was shocked to find out that my standby lunch staple, a Subway sandwich, contained at least 75% of my daily sodium intake.  Yikes! I also noticed that a lot of recipes from contained the calorie/fat information but not the sodium intake. I began to start studying labels big time. Nutella had a limited amount of sodium. A whole can of tomatoes – 500 mg of sodium. I found great websites with gourmet, full of flavor recipes and I pulled out my South Beach Diet cookbook. In order to lower my sodium, drastic changes were in store. I got a little depressed.

THEN I actually started watching my sodium last week. I started with eating a banana, orange and latte for breakfast. Lunch consisted of healthy leftovers or a low sodium lean cuisine . Snacks included an avocado/wasu crackers or granola type bar (though this week I discovered that my beloved Take 5 was only 180mg – ha! I can still have some sweets). The most important meal was dinner. I had to make dinner bearable for the toddler and husband as well as on the quick side. This week my husband has been pleasantly please by the new dishes we are trying. We even had broccoli mac and cheese and he lived as well as loved it.

I do allow myself one day to eat something off limits. I believe that allowing that can help me focus on the other times.

I must confess, I haven’t been to the gym in over two weeks. I told myself that after this week’s cold snap I would be back at it, trying to train for a triathlon (we should call that tryathlon) in July. And since I’m not a fan of yoga, I have looked into breathing exercises.

I do feel better since watching my sodium. Let’s see if it helps the waistline.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Year 2000 - Yes, I was a Phishead

[caption id="attachment_471" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Greatest jam band? Phish? Really?"]Greatest jam band? Phish? Really?[/caption]

It's probably pretty obvious to my readers that I have bad taste in music. So it should not come to a surprise to you that at the turn of the century, I was really into Phish. I don't even know how the whole Phish thing got started but one day I was this normal college student in Nebraska and the next day I was eating veggie burritos in Wisconsin on shakedown street. The funny thing -- no one in my family really knew that. They knew I liked Phish (they still think Phish is my favorite band -- which they never have been -- U2 holds that top spot). They knew that I might have went to a show but they didn't know about the driving to Minneapolis or heading to Wisconsin or the shows in Kansas City or the time I had tickets to five shows in a row. Many miles on my '95 Saturn coupe to see what Rolling Stone calls America's greatest jam band (doesn't that title go to the Grateful Dead?).

We declared last night "Rock Doc" night. I have a few rock docs in my DVD library and my husband said he'd never seen Phish's Bittersweet Motel doc about The Great Went shows in Maine, I humored him and took a ride back in my past. You see, I secretly find reasons to get in the car on Sunday to listen to 92/7FM's Jam in Your Ear because I might catch a Phish bootleg song. Every once and a while, I drag a Phish CD out and listen. I'm becoming my mother, listening to 8 Tracks from the 70s in the 90s except I only do this in my car and only subject myself to it. My husbands likes Phish. He also is a Dead fan too. Can you like both? This movie talks about that and actually shows the leader of the band dissing phan. What the? I forgot about that part.

Phish reminds me of all the embarrassing things I did in my 20s. It's a good reminder that you need to have fun because someday you need to grow up and become an adult.

The last Phish show I attended was in 2000. They bounced on trampoline. Trey and Mike did their little dance. 2001 was played. Run Like an Antelope blared. My friend thought Phish actually wrote "Roses are Free." Umm, no -- that was Ween. Then my boyfriend and I broke up. And I moved on. I couldn't listen to Phish (even though I did the breaking up, it brought back all these memories I didn't want to re-live).

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I last saw Phish. In that time, they've broken up. Formed side projects. Got arrested for drugs and then re-grouped in 2009 for a reunion tour. I was tempted to head to the Gorge to see them but I only could go see one out of town show this summer and you all know who that was.

Because I'm really fit

This is not my video but it's hilarious if you know the story about behind the rivalry between Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar.

Crazy cyclocross action in Bend, Oregon

Average Saturday with a toddler

Easy pretzel turtles

[caption id="attachment_450" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pretzel turtles! YUM."]Pretzel turtles! YUM.[/caption]

One of my favorite things to do as a child around Christmas time was bake cookies with my mom. We would make gum drop cookies, easy fudge, pecan sandies and spritz cookies. Before she died, my mom bought me a spritz cookie maker but I tried and tried and I couldn't make those darn cookies! One of my traditions is making pecan sandies, though, I haven't made them yet this year. Maybe I will do that today?

I got invited to my first cookie exchange and I wanted to make something that was easy, yummy and fun to make. I went back and forth on what the heck to do and then Our Best Bites had a recipe for easy pretzel turtles. Salty and sweet! Yum! I had to prepare three dozen of something and I was done in 10 mins with cookie exchange cookie.

I think this will be a new tradition as the extras I had left over are now gone thanks to my husband, toddler and myself.


Easy Pretzel Turtles

courtesy of Our Best Bites

small pretzels
Rolo candies - one bag has about 55 candies
Pecan halves - or optionally peanuts, cashews, and m&m's
Optional: almond bark or white chocolate for drizzling

This is easy as can be! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet. I like to use parchment paper for easy handling, but you can also put them on foil, a silpat, or directly onto the cookie sheet.

Unwrap your Rolo candies and place one on top of each pretzel like a cute little hat.

Don't they look like they're just standing there waiting for an order? At least someone in my house stands at attention because heaven knows my children don't!

Place pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Any longer is probably too long. You just want the chocolate on the outside to look glossy and melty, but they should still hold their shape.

Remove pan from oven and take a pecan and gently press it right into the center of the chocolate candy.

This will be my next challenge as my husband loves egg nog.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cyclocross: It's some crazy s$%#!

The National Cyclocross championships are taking place in Bend right now. It's fun to watch but wow, the injuries. Almost as bad as roller derby

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You need teeth to chew

I hate baby teeth. They keep my son up at night, crying with pain which means they are keeping me up at night and then tired at work the next day. Sure, it’s nice that my toddler has teeth so he can eat but he can’t eat when they have his mouth swollen and throbbing so he’s been eating a lot of yogurt, bananas and cold milk. When he’s hungry, he taken to whining by the frig and when I open it, grabbing yogurt. Poor little buddy.

Lil B’s teeth definitely take after my side of the family – full of gaps. I ask him to “show me his teeth” and he opens up and says “AHHHHH” as loud as he can. I try to see how things are looking but he won’t let me touch! His favorite activity, brushing his teeth, has become a chore because who wants to brush your mouth when it hurts?

Lil B has been living on ibuprofen for about two days now. He’s crabby, clingy and plain ole tired. He is now back to taking two naps a day. I will be so happy when this set of canines come in but then he’s in for the ultimate pain – 2 year molars soon enough. I’ll be happy when they’re all in and he’s back to being a happy camper.

In other Lil B news, last night he looked at the tv during Dora and exclaimed “MONKEY!!!” “Boo Boo” after this book that was recently given to us. It was so cute but hasn't happened since.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don't try this at a Motorhead concert

My husband shot this video while we were front row June 30, 2009 at the Wilco show in Jacksonville, OR. He caught the best Tweedy monologue of the night on video.

I don't wanna pick sides. I'm Switzerland.

bono jeff thom copy

If there were three people you could meet … who would they be? Without any question, I would rattle off Bono, Jeff Tweedy and Thom Yorke. If you would ask my co-workers what gets me animated it would be stretched logos, LOST and Wilco. Wilco is not my favorite band. Wilco is my third favorite band. (By my “who would I like to meet” list, you can probably figure out who the two favorite bands would be).

[caption id="attachment_402" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="The Grandfathers of Alt Country Rock - Jay and Jeff"]The Grandfathers of Country Rock - Jay and Jeff[/caption]

I am not an expert in music. I try not to follow the rules. I still don’t know if Lady Gaga is a band or woman. But there was one rule bestowed upon me in 1996 – you have to choose sides, Wilco or Son Volt. I really didn’t want to choose and honestly, I wasn’t a big Uncle Tupelo fan. I believe my brother was but I thought they had a neat sound and who doesn’t like a banjo. But Uncle Tupelo are the pioneers of progressive sounds – the godfathers of alternative country rock. One time my dad was driving in the car with me and Uncle Tupelo was playing – “who is this? That’s an interesting sound.” Godfathers of Alt Country Rock dad. My dad likes Willie, Waylon and the boys. He liked Uncle Tupelo.

(Uncle Tupelo breaks up in 1994. Two bands are formed - Jay Farrar forms Son Volt. Jeff Tweedy and the rest of Uncle Tupelo form Wilco)

So back in 1996, I was working in television. My co-worker was playing Son Volt while we were waiting for the 10 p.m. news to get going. “Uncle Tupelo?” No, Son Volt. “What the?  Sounds like Uncle Tupelo.” No, it’s Son Volt. “Wow, Jay doesn’t diversify.” This opened a WHOLE can of worms. How you have to pick sides. You can’t like Jay and Jeff. It’s just wrong. You pick one.

[caption id="attachment_403" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Is that God shining down on Jeff Tweedy? No, just light from the hallway"]Is that God shining down on Jeff Tweedy? No, just light from the hallway[/caption]

I picked Jeff.

Years later, I was dating a guy who was really really into Wilco. (In fact, he looked like Jeff Tweedy. I believe he went as Jeff Tweedy, the pain killer years (aka Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) for Halloween once.  Ideally you would think that would be a perfect match but that was when Kid A and Amnesiac came out and well, I was really into Radiohead then. My music tastes go along the lines of who has a good album and who is a touring. Wilco is always touring. U2’s last album wasn’t very good and Radiohead is off building their next masterpiece. You can see why a gal like me is a little Wilco-centric. They are always playing a show. That’s why they’re the biggest touring band you’ll never hear on the radio. Their sound is unique. So unique, it will never make Top 40 radio. Where was I – I posed the Jeff/Jay question – and well, he totally agreed. You can’t like both. You pick sides.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. My friend tells me Son Volt is coming to Bend. Now I’m the one saying you can’t like Son Volt and Wilco. It’s just wrong. You pick sides. Who have I become? This is the gal who doesn’t have music rules. Screw it. I like the new Son Volt songs but I just can’t bring myself to buy the album. I feel this allegiance to all things Wilco. I feel as if I’m betraying Jeff Tweedy. But in all honesty, would he even care? Really? If I meet him ever, the first question I will ask “are you ok that I listen to Son Volt?” He would probably say something brilliant that translates to “I really don’t care. Go forth and listen to Son Volt.”

So, I will just believe I have his blessing.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Third row -- Edgefield. I was the girl yelling "BREEDLOVE""]Third row -- Edgefield. I was the girl yelling BREEDLOVE[/caption]

Monday, November 30, 2009

18 months


[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Brobee and blankey"]Brobee and blankey[/caption]

Last week, you turned 18 months old. As I say each month -- where does the time go? It was just yesterday you were sleeping soundly in your swing clutching your blanket. Now you just carry that blanket around. You and blankey are pretty much attached at the hip. I think we might have to make it into a cap someday.

Speaking of being attached at the hip, you also are pretty attached to the five binkies you sleep with. I'm devising a plan to get you off the binky and bottle by your second birthday. Shhh, don't tell Dr. Middleton tomorrow. We have been trying to limit binky time to only when you're fussy. Last week your vocabulary started to explode which gives your dad and I more reason to take the binky away. You can say hi, bye, banana, cookie, knock knock, kitty and your favorite -- uh oh. I'm sure there is a lot more you can say but we can't understand it just yet.

Your comprehension is pretty good as well. You know what brush your teeth means and you run down the hall, into the bathroom and try to reach for your toothbrush. You also know what "let's watch Yo Gabba Gabba." You run up to the TV and stare. You're quite fond of Brobee.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="350" caption="How Yo Gabba Gabba saved the 3 hour lay over."]How Yo Gabba Gabba saved the 3 hour lay over.[/caption]

You recently decided to drop your morning nap though you can't quite make it to 1 p.m. you make it known by running up with your bottle and blankey letting us know you want a three hour nap. From 5 - 7 p.m. you're the fussiest kiddo on the planet, yet you won't go to bed at 7 p.m.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="350" caption="Look at those eyes"]Look at those eyes[/caption]

For the first time, I can see my mother and myself in you. You have the eyes, chin and I'm pretty sure the nose. I didn't believe it until I pulled out my baby photos -- you don't look exactly like your dad like we thought you would. Let's hope you have his thick wavy hair and my nice skin.

I'm excited for what the next six months bring. I'm excited to hear the new words you learn. I'm just excited and crazy about you.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sit, kneel, stand

7I grew up Catholic. I joke about it a lot - Catholic guilt, Catholic school - you know the drill.  I'm not going to knock Catholics or Catholic schools. I went to church up until I moved to Bend. After getting settled into Bend, I attended our only Catholic church and well, didn't go back. I didn't feel at home. I didn't get married in a Catholic Church. My son isn't baptized. I told my husband, I'm probably the black sheep of the family because of it. I'm pretty surprised I haven't heard "Your mother would not be proud of you."

Religion was pretty important to my mother. When faced with a divorce and three small children, she went to Mass each day on her lunch break to get her through it. She worked hard to send us to a good school (my younger brother and I attended public school while my brother went all 12 years. He should get a medal or something for that).  She made me get up for 18 years, every Sunday and when I went away to college, she would call and make sure I went to church. Some of those Sundays I sang in the choir. I did it so I could hang out with my friends during Mass. When I was old enough to drive, my brother and I would skip church and get breakfast. I'm sure she was onto us.

Even though we don't go to church, I still believe in God. I still send good thoughts and prayers. I'm still puzzled what to do about Benjamin though. I know it will come to me sooner or later.

When I've gone through a hard time in my life, I just remember my mom telling me that she went to church everyday on her lunch break and she got through anything life put in her way.

Gobble gobble

We had a lot of traditions growing up. Coconut pies and Grandma's for Thanksgiving. At Christmas, my brother Christopher said he loved the way we opened our gifts (from youngest to oldest, one at a time). For some reason, I always had the most gifts (my mom said this was because the stuff I wanted was always cheap). After the gifts, we'd head to Grandma's for food, presents and sometimes Midnight Mass.  For Easter, my mom would make strawberry pie and my Grandma would make a ham. The holidays are about your family and since we have a little one, it was time to start traditions.

I made my first Thanksgiving family meal this year. I was quite nervous about it and I got a lot of crap for brining my turkey the weekend before and then de-boning my turkey but it was worth it. My sister-in-law, who is  a vegetarian  most of the time, said it was the best turkey she's eaten -- EVER.  The cornbread stuff wasn't so good though. My husband was against the cornbread stuffing from the beginning. He said it was too sweet. I was the only one who would eat it so guess where it ended up -- the trash. I should have boxed it up and taken it to a homeless shelter. I thought it was good though.

My husband and I decided that we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Since my mother-in-law works on the holidays, we invited my sister-in-law and her family over. She brought the vegetables and pies (yum!) and I worked on the rest.  After our bellies were full of the best turkey dinner EVER they played Truth or Dare Jenga while I entertained the toddler.

I have to stay, this was the best Thanksgiving giving we've had since I moved to Bend. And I hope it becomes a tradition.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blood pressure blues

I've become a little obsessed with taking my blood pressure. My little Omron machine has been attached at my hip for the past 8 days. I have to take the machine into my doctor next week who is looking to see how my pressure is doing. As I told my husband, that little machine is stressing me out -- so much that it's elevating my blood pressure even more. I take my blood pressure during the night. I sneak into the bathroom and chant  "stay under 85, stay under 85" and 93 shows up. ARGH!

For the first time in a month, I felt normal after a hard workout (heart rate didn't go over 128. Normally it's up to 170). And for the first time in two weeks, I forgot to take my machine to the gym with me. Oops!

Today I went to the store. I was tasked to get foods that fit the food pyramid. You see, if you follow the food pyramid, you'll lower your blood pressure and maybe lose weight. Who knew? (I'm kidding here).  So I shopped the outer perimeter of the grocery store. I stayed away from the donuts. In my basket were bananas, cuties, carrots, sugar snap peas, whole wheat bread, mini bagels and orange juice with pulp. BORING.  This week features meals involving less salt and more fresh foods. Yay, I'm so excited. NOT.

My friend Jen is an inspiration. She's recently has lost 30 lbs in the past year just running. I know if she can do it, I can. It wasn't that hard - she got me running. I just have to run more. The hard part is finding the time and creating a routine. So, I'm going to hit the running hard once I am cleared to do so.

The other thing is I want the medication to be temporary. My mother and grandmother both suffer(ed) from high blood pressure. I didn't know my grandma had this problem until I told her I had high blood pressure. She won't watch her diet because she's 86 (nice excuse) so she doesn't mind taking medication but I do. I don't want to be popping pills for something I can prevent. I owe that to my son and husband.

Of course, my husband and son are going to suffer. South Beach Diet cookbook, here I come.

For the love of binky

Easily entertained #2

Pumpkin crazed days

I went a little crazy with pumpkin-flavored recipes goods this year. Inspired to try cooking from scratch, I roasted two sugar pumpkins and ended up with 4 cups of pumpkin puree. From this I made a tradition pumpkin pie, pumpkin brownies , baked pasta shells with pumpkin puree and pumpkin crumble. I was a little sick of our little orange friend after that. I usually indulge in a few pumpkin spiced lattes but I’ve only had two this year (good for the waistline, I guess). I have now moved onto sweet potatoes and cranberries. For my cookbook club, I made a sweet potato bourbon cheesecake and for my husband, I made his favorite cranberry bread. Needless to say, I’ve been in a baking frenzy.

When I was a kid, we’d spend Thanksgiving with my mother and her side of the family. My grandma would spend days preparing the side dishes and her famous dressing (which isn’t so famous as it’s just the recipe in the Bohemian Cookbook). My mother was always in charge of the desserts. She never made pumpkin pie but she always made two coconut cream pies -- whipping the heavy cream, browning the coconut. Those pies were heaven.  For some reason, I can't bring myself to make one. Maybe I wouldn't get so sick of pumpkin?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Last night I got home from work, fed the kiddo, decompressed and then I picked myself off the couch and went to the gym. I always feel guilty going to the gym because I'm away from my kid all day and then I go somewhere for an hour and be away from him. My husband says I need this time but I still feel guilty. I don't know how I'll get over it but I must.

When I was a kid, somehow my mom talked me into going to Jazzercise with her. I then talked my friend Mariel and her mom into going as well. This is where I learned my mother wasn't so coordinated. I was a geeky, tall and lanky 13 year old so doing jazz steps and jumps wasn't so pretty either. I shouldn't be making fun of my mom. The site of my Jazzercing wasn't so pretty. It was something that my mom and I did together for two years, three times a week. We'd motivate each other to go and we'd have a good time. My mother wasn't athletic and that was the most she exercised but she gave it a try and I was pretty proud of her.

What I wasn't proud of was the neon outfit I wore to do my workouts in! Good thing I don't have photos of those moments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Wannabe Italian

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Manicotti, it ain't rocket science"]Manicotti, it aint rocket science[/caption]

My mom was pretty good at making the classics. One of her specialties was manicotti. The recipe wasn't a secret -- she always made the recipe on the back of the noddle box (you're seeing a trend here). We would beg her to make this dish weekly but she'd put it off as long as she could. Manicotti was not so simple to make as I found out years later when I made it myself (if I was going to wow a guy, I would make manicotti -- and it usually did the trick). Sometimes my mom would add spinach or Italian sausage. Sometimes she made her own red sauce. Other times she'd used a jar. It always tasted the same no matter what -- made with a lot of love.

Last night, my husband and I went out on a date night to the newest Italian restaurant in town Trattoria Sbandati. I always joke to my friends that I have to go to Omaha for good Italian. My trips to Omaha usually have a stop to Malara's to have lunch with a friend or my grandmother. They have the best homemade noodles (something i want to try sometime) and fried raviolis with their sweet marinara sauce. I can joke no longer as Trattoria Sbandati was fabulous. On the weekend they have four course wine dinners.  Gorganzola frittatta, creamy ribollita, chicken and chanterelles and chocolate mousse that was to die for. The wines were all amazing as well. We walked out of there wishing we could come back every weekend. I'm now tasked with finding a ribollita recipe for my family.

I spend most of my day prepping for turkey day. I de-boned my bird and wrapped it up in foil for roasting on Thursday. I made broth for the first time. (I don't think I'll ever go back.) I also made leek and wild chanterrelle mushroom risotto. the mushrooms were part of our csa and I had no idea what to do them.  Risotto is made with lots of love and stirring and doesn't disappoint. The stirring and adding of broth, the cheese and butter. Lots of love.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mary Lu's Enchiladas

(I'm doubling up on posts to catch up for the two days I didn't post this month. Bear with me)

[caption id="attachment_336" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Mary Lu's Enchiladas"]Mary Lu's Enchiladas[/caption]

As I mentioned before, my brother said his favorite meal my mother made was enchiladas. She found this recipe on the back of an Old El Paso Enchiladas sauce can (the red sauce). I looked in the store the other day to notice the recipe has changed. Good thing I have a copy in my recipe cards. This one is for my brother Christopher.

Mary Lu's Enchiladas (ala Old El Paso)

1 lb of ground beef

1 onion chopped

2 cans red enchilada sauce

1 can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 cups jack cheese

8 flour torillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook onions until translucent (5-10 mins), then brown beef. In a sauce pan combine enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil and set aside.

Combine beef, 1 cup of cheese and 1/2 cup of prepared sauce. Dip tortillas in sauce, fill and roll. Top with one cup of cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.


South Omaha Bohemian Cookbook

I sent my brothers an email asking them what their favorite childhood memories are from when we were kids. I didn't hear anything back so I assumed they were consumed with other things and forgot about it -- that was until yesterday. My sister-in-law Kasha sent a card in the mail with answers (brief but helpful answers) to my questions. My brother Chris and I share the exact favorite memories ... playing with toads on the sandy beaches at our cabin, skiing in Colorado, a love for our mother's enchiladas and holiday traditions (like the youngest goes first when opening gifts.

[caption id="attachment_329" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="South Omaha Bohemian Cookbook"]South Omaha Bohemian Cookbook[/caption]

A tradition in our family (from our Grandmother Marie) is to give each child when they get married the South Omaha Bohemian Cookbook. Here lie all the recipes my mother and grandma have used over the years ... meatloaf, chili, ambrosia salad, dumpling and sauerkraut recipes -- you name it -- they are in there (with the exception of the enchilada recipe my bother loves. That is on the back of the Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce can). Since my grandmother considered me a "spinster" because I didn't get married in my twenties, she bought me a copy in 1997. Often times I find myself searching the internet when the darn recipes is in the Bohemian Cookbook.  I remember at the same time, she bought my brother Chris one but then we discovered that his girlfriend at the time had my mother's cookbook (the one with all the sauce stains and notes). Unfortunately, he didn't get the cookbook back which sucks.

Though I love the Bohemian Cookbook chicken and rice recipes, waiting two hours to back isn't my style. My family loves this recipe and it's become a staple in our house.

Cheesy chicken and rice casserole (via

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup  (Regular, 98% Fat Free or Healthy Request®)

1 1/3 cups water

3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cup frozen mixed vegetables

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast half  (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

  • Heat the oven to 375°F.  Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper and vegetables in a 2-quart shallow baking dish.

  • Top with the chicken. Cover the baking dish.

  • Bake for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with the cheese. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir the rice before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Super mom

You may recall I was interviewed by the Bulletin in October 2008 about being a new mother that had returned to work recently. In the article, I had told the reporter my mother was a single mom and I wondered as an adult – “how did she do it?” because I couldn’t ask her today since she died when I was 21 years old.

I’m the bread-winner – not by choice. My husband was laid off in Cascade Healthcare Community’s mass lay-off in February. As I have said before, he’s talented and has made his career as a multi-talented marketing professional – strategist, designer, writer. In these times, those jobs are hard to find and we’ve gotten by on freelance projects here and there plus unemployment benefits and my income.

This has taken a toll on my health as I’m trying to do it all – breadwinner, working mom, wife, clean the house, do the shopping, make the dinner – you get my point. In July, I had a panic attack at work. Not my finest professional moment that only two people saw. I haven’t had panic attacks in over 10 years. As I waited for the doctor to see me, I couldn’t figure out the source. My blood pressure was elevated and I had to monitor it for week until I saw my regular doctor who told me what I already knew – I needed to exercise, cut out salt. If I dropped 10-30 lbs, my pressure would go down. Three months later I came back 5 lbs lighter but everything was still high. She ordered me to keep running, watch my diet and come back in three months unless I started to have certain symptoms – tight chest feeling, headaches. And then those started happening.  As of yesterday, I’m blood pressure meds temporarily. I can not run for a few weeks since part of the problem was my heart rate was too high while running causing me to have even worse symptoms. I can walk and do light exertion but no running. Boo. Never thought I would be sad about that.

I feel like an idiot as my doctor figured out why my pressure was high before I did. I’m doing too much. I’m not taking time for myself (which is why I haven’t posted this much this week. The pressure was driving up my blood pressure as well).

My husband and son need me to be healthy. I need to be healthy myself. I need to ask for help. So my husband is now on board with doing things around the house. I need to realize that they may not be up to my standards but at least he’s helping.

I don’t know how my mom did it all plus go to school and then help my step dad launch a construction business. She was truly a super mom.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

But I don't want to eat that

shepardpieIt wasn't until I became a wife and  mother that I  understood the heartache my mom went through each night to put a hot meal on the table each night. She would usually prepare the meal the night before after we had gone to bed. Before leaving to take us to school and work, she would put the oven on a timer to have it turn on so dinner would be ready by 6 p.m. each night. One of my favorite meals she made was a dish called beef and taters. For years I searched and searched for that recipe only to find  it was Shepard's pie! She just gave it a funny name because she knew her kids wouldn't eat something called Shepard's pie. Smart cookie, indeed!

I'm making a few of my mom's dishes this month in her honor. Some of her signatures were chicken and rice, enchiladas and stuffed peppers (this is everyone in my family's favorite). Of course, there were some that we turned our noses up to. Like the time she made beef stroganoff.

My mother was intent on getting us to like beef stroganoff but for some reason, I had this aversion to warmed up sour cream and I would not eat it. It broke her heart because usually if I ate it, that meant my younger brother would eat it and visa versa. She was very upset with us and I believe set us to bed without dinner. Another dish she made that I wasn't fond of was Runza Casserole. If you're from the Nebraska, you've had a Runza. She'd brown up some beef, top that with braised cabbage and then roll out crossaints on top. The only cabbage I like is sauerkraut so I'd only get a salad that night. (I am a BIG fan of Runza's cheeseburgers, though).

This week I made this Shepard's Pie recipe for my family to enjoy while I was at cookbook club. I had to disclose to my husband that I used ground turkey instead of beef because I can not pull the wool over my husband's eyes, ya know. His cholesterol is high as well as my blood pressure so we need to make some changes. Of course, this meant he wouldn't eat the left overs. I have to remember to make half a batch next time. I've been eating Shepard's pie most of the week for lunch.

So I want to know, what were your favorite dinner dishes made by your mom?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The family resemblence

It wasn't until I saw this photo that I believed that my son was starting to look like me:

1I was telling someone the other day how lucky their child was because they had a tea set growing up because I never had one. Well, I guess that was a lie because I found this photo and I indeed had a tea set. The funny thing, I totally remember playing house with my younger brother Christopher and using this Humpty Dumpty tea set. I'm glad my parents took "some" photos of me. (If you ask my dad, he will tell you about how I complained as a child there were no photos of me. Just ask him if you ever meet him).

For months, everyone has been telling me how much Lil B looks like Brian. Oh he has Brian's nose. Oh he has Brian's mouth. Oh, he definitely has Brian's eye color and then I found that photo and I started believing, there is a little me in him.

DSC07913You see, I look like my mom. People will see me with my dad and wonder "is that the milk man's kid?"  I do have my father's chin, after all and well, my "big bones" come from my dad's side as well. I also inherited my mom's skin too -- which always made her look younger with hardly any wrinkles.


That photo better not show up on that awkward family photo website.

It's about giving

There are a lot of things I want right now -- A brand new TV and Macbook so we can ditch cable and get content off the internet (I guess we can’t now since our tvs don’t have HDMI connections). A new digital camera and a Flip video thiny to capture life in our household. A newer car – our 12 year old Honda civic is old and not so pretty and sometimes I get embarrassed when I drive it. (In reality, it runs pretty darn good and it’s a Honda – it will run forever. I should be lucky, right?) When it comes down to it, we could get these things but in reality we don’t need them, therefore we shouldn’t buy them. Though Brian is unemployed, he is starting to finally get freelance work. I’m less worried about money but I still shouldn’t blow our savings on frivolous luxury items.

My mother didn’t teach me to want things. She taught us growing up the importance of buying only the things we need – food, clothing – the necessities of life. She taught us to never live outside of our means (which is mainly why the only debt we have is our mortgage and student loans). She learned this lesson when she divorced my dad and didn’t have a job and three mouths to feed. She got the aid to go to school and learn all about computers. So when we wanted an Atari, the answer was no. There were starving kids in China and we need to get outside and play. When I wanted Guess Jeans in junior high, she told me to save my babysitting money – there wasn’t the money to buy designer  jeans.

Christmas is coming up. We have nine nieces and nephews to buy for along with four sets of parents.  I honestly don’t know how we will do it. Two years ago, shipping alone was over $100. Last year, I just bought everyone the same gift card from Target to cut down on the cost of shipping. The kids loved it as they got to pick out their own gift or pooled it to get a Wii game. I’m having a quandary this year. I know things are tight for us but many can’t even pay their rent. Maybe I donate all that money to a non-profit so someone else can have a nice Christmas? My husband wanted some cash to buy me something. You see, he got his Christmas gift in June – a nice Breedlove guitar which satisfied his birthday, father’s day and Christmas. For our wedding anniversary, he bought me diamond earrings. I have everything I need – my family, health, food and a nice warm roof over my head. I don’t need or want anything for Christmas from him. He doesn’t quite get that.

The first Christmas my parents were divorced my mom couldn’t buy us anything but didn’t tell us that.  She said Christmas would be lean but she was worrying about keeping us feed and in private school. In this worrying, someone sent her some cash in the mail to buy us gifts. She didn’t tell us this story until years later but she never found who put that cash in the mail. I always try to remember that story when getting caught up on buying or receiving gifts at the holidays.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Barbies, oh my

I didn't think 18 month olds could get so excited by such a thing but Lil B is definately into Brobee. Brobee what you say? We'll let school you ...
Known as the "little green one," Brobee is from Fall Tree Land. He is four years old (he turns four in the "Birthday" episode. Brobee is small and has a lot to learn. He tends to pout a little at times, but once DJ Lance and the gang help him figure out his problem, his frown turns upside down in a flash! Brobee is full of love and admiration for his friends.

[caption id="attachment_195" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Brobee Chair"]The Brobee Chair[/caption]

What that doesn't mention is Brobee is the coolest character on Yo Gabba Gabba. When I first saw Yo Gabba Gabba, I was a little weirded out -- why is this grown man dressed like an 80s DJ? And then MGMT came on and sang about art and it clicked .. this is a hip version of Sesame Street. What kinda program teaches your kid how to beat box (Thanks Biz Markie) and your art teacher is the lead singer from DEVO. So I embraced Yo Gabba Gabba.

Benjamin loves his Brobee chair and yesterday, while at TJ Maxx I could not pass up a stuffed Brobee that sang "Party in my tummy." I couldn't wait until Christmas to give it to him and when I did, he giggled and laughed and I swear I hear "Party in my tummy" 20 times the rest of the night.

When I was a little girl, I was way into Barbies at an early age. Each Christmas and birthday, I wanted a new Barbie along with a Barbie horse, a Barbie house and a Barbie car. I would even take my Barbies to my cousin's house and we'd have Barbie weddings. I'm sure this all drove my mother nuts but each year, I got a Barbie. I even had my own Barbie room. I was a lucky girl.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A visit from the tooth fairy

It’s been a rough week in our house. The toddler is teething – one canine have popped through with three more on the way. I think we’re only four teeth away from a full mouth of teeth and it can not come soon enough. It seems each night for the past week, I’ve been awoken (because Brian does not seem to hear Lil B) by crying at 1 a.m. when the ibuprofen has worn off. Lil B isn’t too sure about ibuprofen. Sometimes he takes it no problem. Other times he won’t take it so to cut the fuss time down to a minimum, I put it in a bottle and then back to bed he goes. (start the scolding now, I’m waiting). One must do what they need to survive -- this I have learned from the past 17 months of motherhood. Last night was a little different. I gave him the bottle and went back to sleep only to be awoke 15 minutes later. This could only mean one thing -- a dirty diaper.  Back to sleep he went after the diaper change. At 5:30 a.m. I woke up to screaming. I made Brian get up and then the screaming wouldn't stop so I just got up anyway. Teething is tough business and sleep is overrated.

I remember the day I lost my first tooth. It was wiggling loosely and my mom dared me to just yank it but I was scared. After a little coaxing, I yanked it out of my mouth and she explained the tooth fairy was come and leave me a surprise if I put it under my pillow. "No way! Really? A Barbie?" She explained that it probably wouldn't be a Barbie -- maybe some money. Money was nothing to me at five years old. Barbies were worth more in my book. Then my mom explained that money could get me a Barbie and then I was all game for the tooth fairy to visit. So I anxiously went to bed and tried my best to fall asleep fast so I could get up and have enough money for a Barbie.

The next morning, I checked under my pillow and there were a few bright shiny quarters under my pillow but not enough to buy a Barbie. My mom explained that I had to lose a few more teeth until I had enough to get that Barbie and of course I had no problem pulling out the loose teeth. Each tooth I lost, I seemed to get more money. I often wondered how the tooth fairy was not waking me up but since having I child I know now the "fairy" would wait until I was in a deep sleep and then slip the quarters under my pillow.

When it was all said and done, I ended up with buck teeth and had to get braces in the sixth grade. I can already tell that Lil B is gonna need braces because he has the same spacing I had as a child with his two front teeth. I wore those darn braces until I was almost in high school. My senior year, my teeth started to move so back on the braces went for six months. I have a permanent retainer on the back of my top teeth so they won't move anymore.

I know I have a few years until the "fairy" visits Lil B but I almost can't wait until he grows up. What the heck, I can't wait until he finally starts talking. But maybe I should be careful what I wish for. I don't want him growing up too fast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It ain't Thanksgiving if you don't have turkey

I was going to make this glorious Thanksgiving feast when my friend told me she's not too into Thanksgiving food - she's gonna make tacos instead of come over. TACOS? Really? The only time I didn't eat Turkey on Thanksgiving was when we went to Disney World in 2003 and we decided to get Chinese. That took our guests from seven back down to the three of us (which means two with Lil B). I was a little relieved because that meant I could just roast a turkey the way my mom did -- turkey breast in the cockpot with salt, pepper and water for 8 hours (it falls right off the bone). Before I knew that my feast was down to three people, I had signed up at Allyson's Kitchen for a Thanksgiving Feast class so I could learn how to roast a turkey. I was dreading the class because the wind was out of my sails -- TACOS? Really? Humph.  I'm glad I went. I learned something I was always afraid to do -- debone poultry.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="269" caption="Homemade Turkey dinner"]Homemade Turkey dinner[/caption]

Did you know that if you debone a turkey, it only takes 45 mins to one hour to roast at 425 degrees? Makes sense. Our instructor deboned a turkey and then had us debone half of a turkey (with his help and a partner), season it and double wrap in foil to roast in the oven. The foil captures the juice so you could put it in the gravy (one stick of butter, 1/4 cup of flour melted on low to make a rue that resembles peanut butter, throw in your stock and a splash of brandy -- it was yummy). I've always been afraid of making my own stock but I'm certain this is the year I will do it. Homemade stock seems to be a cake walk. We also made cornbread stuffing which I have never made before -- I always watched my grandma stuff her turkey with her Polish stuff recipe. I am a convert. We will have cornbread stuff this year. We also made green bean casserole with homemade fried onions on top (yum) and pecan sweet potato pie.  Good thing I didn't eat dinner.

I'm making my feast even if it's just us. Thank you, Allyson's for inspiring me to cook awesome food.

Here is a simple cranberry sauce the chef told us to try. Mix a can of whole cranberries, a jar of orange marmalade, 1/4 cup of red wine and a dash of cinnamon. Simmer until warm. You'll never eat the canned jelly stuff again.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't let the bed bugs bite ...

I love visiting my friend Alissa. I have to admit, I don't see her enough but we are both working moms with busy lives. I told myself after I left that I need to just make time for my friends. So often, I get caught up in work, home, sleep that I don't take the time to really see how my friends are doing. In this digital age, I really rely on social media for that interaction. What did we do before Facebook, Twitter and blogs? I just realized today that I haven't talked to anyone in my family since I got back from Nebraska a few weeks ago. Yikes! And none of them are on Facebook! Oops.

Back to Alissa. She just had her second little boy and holding him today made me wished now was the time I could have another one but it's not. Sleepless nights. Not showering for days. Baby weight ... bring it on. I always get the best nuggets of motherhood advice from Alissa. We were on the topic of kids and TV and she said the most true statement "kids can't watch TV at daycare because we need them to watch it when they're home with us." So true. How else would I get dinner on the table when my husband's not at home.  Kinda reminded me of Mad Men when Betty needs to have a serious talk with Don, she tells the kids to watch TV. I'm only half kidding people.

So I was telling Alissa of our bedtime routine. Bath, jammies, Yo Gabba Gabba, Milk, night night.  We got on this topic because I told her Ben only says five words and one was "gabba" which was part of his bedtime routine. Then I got to thinking ... what was my bedtime routine as a child...

I remember taking nightly baths as I hated to wash my hair because I always seemed to get shampoo in my eyes.  My mom would roll foam rollers in my hair when I was younger. She wanted me to have curly hair as I got the stick straight hair gene from my dad. I remember her saying that I never had a problem going to bed though I do remember going through a bout of insomnia when I was in elementary school and I hid this by taking a flashlight to bed and reading when I couldn't sleep. When it was 9 p.m., I'd get my pjs on and would wait for my mom to tuck me in. She'd give me a hug and kiss and tell me to say my prayers.  I don't remember when she stopped tucking me in. My bedtime got later to 10 p.m. or after the first 10 mins of the 10 p.m. news (I was a budding journalist in those days). She would often just peek in to see if I was reading or actually in bed when I was in high school.

Right now, when Lil B goes to bed I put him in his crib with his blanket. Make sure he has some books (he likes to read in bed in the morning). I turn on his Radiohead Rockabye Lullabies and his turtle night light. We say good-bye and I love you and give him a hug. Most of the time, he doesn't fuss but lately his canines are  busting through and he cries for a bit.

I want him to grow up so fast but I need to savor the moment. He won't always be 17 months.

Is this thing working? Really?????

Please update your links ... this blog has moved here. Thanks to the blogger team for FINALLY fixing my blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stay away from yellow snow

There is nothing more joyous than your toddler discovering snow for the first time. Last year didn’t count as he was a little slug and wasn’t mobile enough to play in the snow. We heard reports that Mt Bachelor had received something like 19 inches of snow over the weekend so to tired out our little one, we drove up Cascade Lakes Highway to let him play in the snow for a bit. His first instinct was to eat the snow. His canines are busting through right now so he’s biting and chewing on everything.  He really couldn’t walk so much as the snow was deep and I don’t exactly have the right boots for him yet (oops) but he seemed to enjoy the snow by the photos we took. We plan on doing plenty of snowshoeing and sledding this year so we have sometime until spring to get our snow on.

Growing up in Nebraska, we experienced plenty of snow storms that were so bad, school was shut down (a rarity in Central Oregon). Our snow days were spent sledding down the big hill in Spring Lake Park and hill next to our house as well as sledding down our long street. Not so safe but fun. My mom and step-dad introduced us to skiing Colorado at an early age (that is another blog post in it’s self).

I can’t imagine growing up and now knowing about snow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bad habits are hard to break

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Mr. Blueberry eyes at 10 months"]Mr. Blueberry eyes at 10 months[/caption]

When you're a new parent, you'll do just about anything to survive that first year. You'll let your baby sleep in the swing until he four months old. You'll fall asleep breast feeding with your baby in your bed just so you get more sleep because you're working full time.  You'll let him watch "Yo Gabba Gabba" because dinner isn't gonna magically appear on the table. I swore I wouldn't give my child a pacifier but I did. He was teething and that seemed to be the only thing that helped (besides heaps of motrin). A year later, my kiddo can't go anywhere without it.

This whole pacifier incident reminds me of a story my mother used to always tell about me. She swore I was going to enter kindergarten sucking on a pacifier.  I guess I was pretty into my blanket as well (sounds like someone I know -- Lil B has a blanket he carries all over the house but isn't allowed to take outside the house as if we lose it, we'll be in deep trouble) but I would not part with that zoo zoo (don't quote me but I think that is short for the Polish way of saying pacifier). My mom tried everything. Letting me cry in bed for it. Only giving it to me at naps. Nothing was working. I would whine and whine (no surprise here) and she'd give in.  Then she had this great idea ....

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Lil B relaxing with his binky"]Lil B relaxing with his binky[/caption]

One day she took my pacifier away and went towards the bathroom. As told in her words, I was not happy and I rushed after her. She lifted the lid of the toilet and threw it in the bowl. "NO!" I screamed and she flushed the toilet. I peered over the bowl watching the water swirl away. The binky was gone forever and she wasn't going to buy me anymore. Of course, she didn't actually throw the binky in, I found out later on in life. She threw something else loud enough to make me believe it was my binky. She was one smart cookie.

I told myself I'd give Lil B until the first of the year to drop the binky. I'm actually really working on getting him to give up the bottle (I hope my pediatrician doesn't read this post). It's not going to well. Sheesh.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

If you say you don't like to, then you won't like it

For months I have said how much I hate running but then I came down with this chest cold and it's killing me each day I'm not running. Someone smart (my mom) once told me that if I hate something, then I hate something. Does that makes sense? I ran today and felt like I was going to die afterwards. If I'm not better by Wednesday, it's back to Urgent Care I go. BLAH.

When I was a child, my parents tried to get me to be athletic. My mom enrolled me into soccer where I embarrassed her by skipping down the field. Obviously, soccer wasn't my thing.  Then she made me sign up for t-ball. I would be out in the outfield day dreaming away missing the pop flies. When I was in the sixth grade I decided that I wanted to hang out with my friends more which meant I had to try out for volleyball and basketball. Big fails considering I was the tallest girl in my class. I've always been a failure at athletics.  I have to give my mom props. She came to my games and I'm sure she painfully watched as I skipped along or daydreamed in the outfield.  I do know she was really proud of my flute playing abilities. She would tell everyone that I was bound to be a marching Huskers (to her dismay, I did not want to try out for the Husker Marching Band nor did I when I went to the University of Nebraska).

Me and the tweeps racing the Salmon Run. (Photo Courtesy of <a href=Last spring, movitvated by my friend Jen who wanted to run a 5k by her 35th birthday, I decided to give something a try I never thought I could do or enjoy -- running. So we followed the Couch to 5K program and in 12 weeks we were running a 5k. Jen and the gang went onto run a 10k but I twisted my ankle on the river trail and my doctor told me to walk instead -- so I spent two months walking four days a week along the Deschutes River Trail.   A month ago, I started back up but now I have this nasty chest cold and I'm so mad. I want to run the Mash Potato Run in a few weeks. ARGH! You're not supposed to run when you have a chest cold. ( photo courtesy of Jen Floyd)

I'd like to think my mom is proud of my running. I'm not too sure she'd be too proud of my roller derby days though.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spanx, tights -- just don't call them ...

Today I was accused of being too young to have ever worn pantyhose. I cannot remember how we got on this topic but my answer was “yes, I have worn pantyhose. Still buy them in a shade of nude, but I avoid wearing them when possible.”  Pantyhose is not a word I like using. Can’t the company think of a better name? Spanx sound like a way of saying pantyhose. What about the word “tights” – I think we should call them tights for now. Which reminds me of this Six Feet Under episode. I am so glad I’m not required to where pantyhose. Where was I? Oh yes.

Remember Leggs Eggs? That whole conversation got us on the topic of Leggs Eggs. My mom used to wear suits to work everyday  (she was a network analyst at one of the largest banks in Omaha) which meant she was always buying pantyhose. I’d get so excited because I like to play with the Leggs Eggs containers.  One year she tried to tell us the Easter Bunny hid messages in the Leggs Eggs to help us find our Easter Baskets.

“Mom, you and the Easter Bunny have the same handwriting,” I said.

“Well, he’s a bunny, he doesn’t know how to write,” she said.

“Does he also wear pantyhose?”

I can’t remember how she answered that one. That Easter “the bunny” wrote messages in her Leggs Easters and led my brothers and I (I think I was 10) all over the house looking for the pot of gold in our Easter Baskets. I was quite fond of Peeps and malted milk balls and needed that sugar fix before we left for Mass and the mass gathering of cousins, aunts and uncles at my grandparent’s house.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why I give

Each year at work, we're asked to donate to the United Way.  Well, we get emails and a pledge card in our check and are asked to give and contribute towards a company-wide goal. Some hate being asked for money. Some are the first to turn in their pledge card. I help with our workplace  campaign because of something my mom said a long ago to me when I was 16 years old.

In high school, I worked at Baker's, a grocery chain now owned by Kroger. My mom shopped at Baker's each week as far back as I could remember along with my grandma who would take me with her to the store each week with her when I went to kindergarten by her house. My grandma would make a deal with me -- "Shannon, stay by my grocery cart. If you get lost and they have to page me, no Whatchmacallit bar." (Are you seeing a trend? It's starting to explain my sweet tooth).  I was known for wandering off and then crying that I was lost so they'd page my mom and grandma. Of course, they were mortified each time when I did this.  I liked going to Baker's as a child because I'd hang out by the magazines and read about Duran Duran while my mom would shop with her list and coupons. The staff all seemed to know her and we always went to the same cashier.

Back then, Baker's was locally owned and a pretty cool place for a teenager to start gain work experience. I don't think Baker's had any standards in hiring their grocery sackers. The ultimate goals was to train their employees to be "people pleasers." Back then, there was a trend going on in Omaha that most grocery stores didn't have grocery sackers and you'd save money if you bagged your groceries yourself. Not Baker's. We were trained to take out even one sack of groceries even if the customer would fuss, we'd still do it. They even gave us topics to talk about so we had more to talk about than the weather and how the Huskers were doing during football season.  Baker's shaped my customer service skills. I swear, I went to a week long training class on how to sack groceries correctly in a paper sack and a plastic bag. It drives me bonkers when I go to the grocery store and they put potatoes on top of my bread or bleach with my apples.

Baker's was a very community minded store. They were always doing a food drive or sponsoring an event in the community. At our weekly produce test meeting, one of my fellow employees got up and talked about the United Way and why we should give. The woman was a volunteer at the local chapter of Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I never qualified for this program though I came from a divorced family and didn't have a big sister but I still felt passionate that there was kids out there that needed the service. My co-worker asked us to please consider giving one hour of pay (then it was $3.75) a month to help someone who needs it. I was touched but I was really saving up for my car insurance because I was going to buy my mom's '92 Chevy Monte Carlo and couldn't spare the $3.75 a month. I tucked the pledge card in my purse and went on trying to remember the number for green peppesr (4065).

A few days later, I was cleaning out my purse and I was about to throw the pledge card away when my mom grabbed it.

"You're throwing your United Way pledge card away?" she said.

"Umm, yea. Why?"

"You know United Way helps those in need? They help singles moms who need to go to college so they can feed their children and not depend on welfare," she said. I stared blankly wondering what her point was. "Singles moms with no college education and small hungry kids. Small hungry kids who she wanted to send to Catholic school. You know those uniforms are expensive."

"Oh, I get it, you're saying the United Way sent you to college?" I was sorta getting her point.

"Well, not the United Way but one of the agencies, Catholic Charities, helped me get into the community college so I could study computers and feed my hungry children so they could go to Catholic grade school, " she handed the pledge card back to me with a pen. "You can give something. You're only going to spend it on clothes and Guess jeans anyway," she was right and had a point. I gave $4 a pay check and I've been giving (when my work place allows it) ever since.

When I moved to Bend, I had the pleasure for working for the United Way. Each year, many community members volunteer to go out and tell their United Way story. When I worked for the United Way, I told that story once to a group in Sunriver. I didn't think I could get through it without crying since my mom died. I didn't want anyone asking me "I'm sure your mom is proud" and have to be a buzz kill and say my mom isn't alive. Maybe if I would have told that story, I could have inspired more 16 year olds to give? So I'm telling you no -- that's why I give.

It's United Way time across the country. If you have a work place campaign, it's easy to give and most places, like Central Oregon, 97% of your donation will go to those in need. To learn more about the United Way in your community, check out their website.