Give Thanks…

Today’s 10 on Tuesday is a given during this week of Thanksgiving…10 things I’m thankful for…this list could go in so many different directions and could stretch for many multiples of 10. But for today, a simple list…in no particular order…

Give Thanks

  • My family! We are a family that enjoys being together. I’m thankful that we’re together this week for Thanksgiving. As we shared ’round the Thanksgiving table at church on Sunday, our Thanksgiving tradition is being together…some years our meals have been non-traditional (Planet Hollywood, Benihana’s)…this year we are on for a more traditional meal (& a non-traditional dessert!)
  • The gift of knitting, learned from my Grandma 17+ years ago. Both the activity of working calming stitches & the resulting gifts that are knit for dear ones bring me joy.
  • Dear friends. Silliness…seriousness…honest conversations…fun adventures…just being together…staying connected through the distance…
  • The warmth of hand knits as colder days descend…
  • “My kids” in Wisconsin & Texas. It is such a treat to be “Miss Amy” to these 6 amazing and unique kids. They fill me with joy and we have lots of fun, too!
  • Fun pottery mugs filled with steaming coffee or tea…
  • The technologies that allow me to stay so connected to my dear ones when the miles between us are many. From “text me when you arrive safely” to “gamecasting sporting events” to plenty of silliness in texts to FaceTime when you just need to see each other.
  • Good books and curiosity to keep learning…
  • Monday evenings at the local food pantry…it’s great to spend a couple of hours helping local families shop…some evenings it’s tough to see the scarcity on the shelves with the overwhelming needs…it’s always a great “perspective straightener” to remind me that whatever I’m going through truly isn’t bad.
  • A good job that I enjoy. Sure there are some challenging days but there are also great opportunities.

While it’s great to come up with a list as we approach Thanksgiving I believe it is just as important to be thankful throughout the year.

What are the things that you are most thankful for now…at this moment?

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Bucket List Birthday

Ten years ago, I celebrated a decade turning birthday in Chicago in lots of different ways – culminating with drinks and dinner at the top of the Hancock Building with dear girlfriends. Looking back on the last 10 years, I know that as we enjoyed the city and lake views with our celebration I didn’t have a glimpse into how the next 10 years would progress and indeed how I would celebrate the next decade turning birthday. While I don’t have a formal bucket list, per se, as I look at the last 10 years there have been some pretty incredible experiences that have filled my bucket. So, it seemed appropriate to celebrate this decade turning birthday in Wisconsin with a bucket list experience – it was finally to see a Packers game at Lambeau. And not just any game – the latest installment of the Packers vs. Bears rivalry in prime time. This time last weekend, I was in the midst of enjoying a fantastic birthday celebration weekend with dear ones back in Wisconsin.

As the sun was setting on Sunday afternoon, we loaded into the van to head towards the game. All week we had been watching the weather forecast and so we made sure that we had plenty of layer options to wear & carry in so that we wouldn’t be frozen fans – in the end, we didn’t even deploy all the layers we brought with us. In no time, we were parking about 5 blocks from the stadium and adding layers to our ensembles before walking to the stadium. Along the way, we passed a lot of tailgating and cheering fans in the neighborhood that surrounds the stadium. As we reached the stadium we were swept up into the throngs of fans as we worked our way around to the front entrances and the new Lambeau Leap statue. (Trivia: C & V were at the game where the 1st Lambeau Leap was experienced) After capturing the appropriate leap pictures, it was time to enter the stadium and find our seats.

We pushed through the crowds and climbed the steps to our seats. Before long we were settling into our seats in the end zone, near the Packers tunnel. The pre-game festivities were stirring – it seemed appropriate that we were there for a great show of military service appreciation. We all dutifully held up our blue cards for the Card Stunts. And then, it was time for the game to start. Before long, the Packers were in the end zone and we were jumping up and down screaming & high-fiving with those in the seats around us. Early in the game, it was evident that it was not going to be a good night to be a Bears fan – the 20-something Bears fans in the seats in front of us quickly realized they needed to just embrace the Lambeau experience. As the Packers continued to score, we joked that it would be great for them to at least score as many points as there were candles on my cake this year. Little did we know they would surpass that by halftime.

As the game continued into the second half, it was obvious that we were lucky enough to be witnessing an incredible game in this longstanding rivalry. Even as seats around us started to empty, we stayed to the very end. There were still plenty of opportunities to scream and holler and cheer as great play continued. I had started losing my voice on Saturday but that didn’t stop me from cheering with the best of them during the game. As we headed back to the van after the game we all were floating just a bit from the excitement of a great game and a great evening.

While the game on Sunday night was definitely the highlight of the weekend, it was an all around great time with dear ones. My flight path to WI included connecting through Atlanta so I “picked up” Rebecca to join the celebration. The WI family picked us up in Milwaukee and we had our “normal” road trip fun including lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and Kwik Trip stops. Saturday evening, the grown-ups enjoyed a very grown-up dinner of Concrete Mixers from Culvers. On Sunday morning we headed up to the land in the UP in the midst of a few snowflakes. Sunday supper happened at lunchtime & included cold weather grilling and a tasty birthday cake. On Monday, a pretty snowfall came down outside the living room picture window as we enjoyed hanging out before it was time for Rebecca to head back to GA. Monday lunch was at my favorite Blue Bike Burrito – it had been a while since I’d been there but it is always so fun to walk in & be greeted by name. On Tuesday, I was back in the office there as the snow started to stick more before it was time to fly back to PA.

And now, the decade has turned. Who knows what these next 10 years will hold. But based on the adventures the previous decades have held, I look forward to seeing what unfolds.

Currently…October…

Autumn has arrived…and like the rainbow hued leaves falling from the trees, the days on the calendar seem to be quickly moving by…in the midst of it all, these are some of the things that filled my October days…

ReadingDevouring Curious on a Saturday…starting a new book about the Army Rangers that a college friend co-authored…overall, not a lot of reading this month…

Listening…finally downloaded the latest album from Rend Collective & enjoying it in frequent rotation…

Crafting…some progress on my Brewers season scarf redo…a new travel project on the needles for upcoming travel weekends…

App-ing…finished up 2 digital scrapbooks with the Shutterfly Photo Story app & got them done in time to take advantage of a great sale…

Cheering…the Kansas City Royals in their post season play! Their 1985 World Series run was when I first became a baseball fan. Even though they didn’t take the series it sure was a lot of fun.

Cooking…several of my simple favorites have made the rotation this month…

Sipping…some good autumn brews with a good friend…

Noshing…Philly cheese steaks paired with said autumn brews and friendship while watching game one of the ALCS…

Trick-or-Treating…Halloween in Texas with my girlies meant a costume was needed. This year, it was Rosie the Riveter. I loved that my older girls already knew who Rosie was.

Exploring…picking up a friend in Princeton on a Friday afternoon meant a bit of local exploration & “crossing the Delaware” where Washington had done so…

Traveling…ending the month with Fall Fun with my girlies in Texas included checking out the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum – a great series of exhibits to capture recent history…so many fun times with the girls – winning soccer games on a chilly Saturday afternoon…Miss Butterfly sipping coffee with us at breakfast on Sunday morning – when did she get so grown up?!?…Sunday morning story time in my bed – Miss K reading the stories instead of me…all 5 of us ladies enjoying manicures & pedicures…trying out a new farm-to-table restaurant on Saturday night as an early birthday celebration…such a great weekend…

Looking Ahead…November brings a milestone birthday…a first Packers game at Lambeau Field…Thanksgiving with the family…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days?

Simply Supper – Artisan Favorites

Ah, the question of what to fix for supper? I have a small bookcase filled with cookbooks. I use Pinterest to capture “Someday Recipes” and also keep track of what actually works. The options really are endless. However, in the craziness that is life most days, I find that I appreciate having a “standard” set of recipes that are sure fire wins for simple and satisfying suppers (& leftovers for future meals).

Favorite simple suppers

Favorite simple suppers

  •  Brussels Sprout Hash – One of my most frequent “meals” is a Brussels Sprout Hash. I first started making this on my first Whole30 experience. It’s less of a recipe & more of a framework – the specifics vary basically every time I make it. Start with melting a bit of coconut oil in a large skillet. Add a chopped onion & soften it. Add in chopped chicken sausage (or ham or bacon). Add in 1-2 peeled & diced sweet potatoes. Add a splash or 2 of liquid if pan is dry. Stir & cover for a couple of minutes until the sweet potatoes have softened. Add in shredded Brussels sprouts. Add in 1-2 peeled & diced apples. Shake in a seasoning. Stir it all together – add a splash of liquid if need be. Cover & cook for a couple of minutes. The sprouts should still be green. Serve in bowls – I like to top it with a bit of a brown or spicy mustard. The flavors get better as leftovers – makes a great reheat for lunch, too. (For Whole30, I just use water – otherwise, I’ll use beer or hard cider as the liquid which adds an extra layer of flavor)
  • Lemon Chicken Florentine – A favorite dish from childhood…a simple combination of chicken, onions, spinach & turmeric; I think it’s even better cold the 2nd day.
  • Italian Squash Soup – Another Artisan Mom “recipe.” Brown & drain a pound of Italian sausage. Add in 24 oz tomato sauce, a couple of zucchini & yellow squash diced, some chopped mushrooms, & Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, pepper, garlic, etc) to taste. Bring to a boil & simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Chocolate Chili – Another Whole30 discovery is my new favorite chili recipe is from the great Well Fed cookbook. I frequently double the recipe & will throw it all in the crockpot once I’ve browned the meat.
  • Roasted Shrimp & Veggies with Curry Aioli – A bag of frozen shrimp & whatever veggies I have on hand. Thaw the shrimp in water. Spread all on a baking sheet & drizzle with a bit of olive oil (flavored if you have it) & roast at 425 for about 12 minutes (until the shrimp are pink). Depending on the veggies, sometimes I start them about 10-15 minutes before adding the shrimp. For the Curry Aioli – mayo (homemade, if possible) with a bit of a citrus juice, some crushed garlic, a bit of curry powder – mix together & adjust to taste.
  • Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – My “recipe” is to put a pork roast in the crock pot with some salt, pepper, maybe some garlic & a bottle of whatever beer or hard cider I have in the house. Low and slow for at least 8 hours. I frequently pair it with a Sriracha Coleslaw I discovered. Wrap a tortilla around the pair for a simple taco.

This post is inspired by recent posts from Kelli & Sarah about their “in rotation” & “back pocket” meals. Thanks ladies for the nudge to share these recipes!

What are some of your favorite “Go To” recipes for a simple supper?

The Curious Gal & The Curious Book

The first Saturday of this month, I put everything on pause & sat down with a new book and the plan to just read the day away. Earlier in the week, I heard a radio show on NPR that was interviewing Ian Leslie about his new book: Curious: The Design to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It. The hour was a fascinating discussion about how curiosity shapes our lives and it really resonated with me. Within an hour, I had ordered the book and looked forward to diving into it. Saturday started off gray and rainy – perfect for a reading day. From the introduction to the book I was enthralled and by the time the book was finished later that day, I had scribbled 6 pages of notes and quotes from the book and the titles of several books to add to my unending reading list.

Settling in on a Saturday with a good book & good coffee...

Settling in on a Saturday with a good book & good coffee…

As I read the book, it seemed to explain some of the “how & why” of me…I have always been a collector of “random” knowledge…someone to connect dots between seemingly disparate things…a lover of trivia. Jeopardy has long been a favorite game show – Trivial Pursuit a favorite board game – the networked trivia screens at Buffalo Wild Wings a fun diversion. As a child, I devoured the “Value Tales” story collection – many school projects/reports later on were inspired by the stories in those books and even today when I hear about some of the people who filled the books, I’m taken back to knowledge bits I learned in those stories. I’ve never lost a love of reading – and my reading list is normally pretty eclectic and filled with many new topics and facts to discover. A week doesn’t go by that I don’t follow-up on something I heard on NPR on my commute. My curiosity continues…seeking out “adventures” and unknowns/unexpected discoveries in travel…collecting notes and facts in paper & virtual notebooks…

The book compiles a lot of research and thoughts on curiosity and presents it in a very readable manner – the importance of curiosity being encouraged as a child; the Need for Cognition (NFC) as a measure of intellectual curiosity; the types of curiosity – epistemic (deeper, more disciplined and effortful curiosity) and emphatic (curiosity about the thoughts and feelings of others); how the instant access to information online may actually limit our curiosity (here, an article from him on the topic); how curious adults can help to achieve innovation within an organization; the concept of a “foxhog” – a hybrid of the fox who knows many things and the hedgehog who knows one big thing; and so many more interesting facts that tell the story of how this curiosity shapes us.

Like all good books (in my opinion), there were several nuggets of new knowledge to tuck away…maybe for a round of trivia…

  • I don’t believe that I knew that a favorite word, serendipity, came from the Persian Fairy Tale: The Three Princes of Serendip…as Horace Walpole wrote, they were “…always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…” Indeed, I have been researching since reading this book – next, to read the fairy tale. Growing up, our family had many a Serendipity Saturday – plans were unknown but we knew fun would be discovered.
  • Curiosity cabinets – who knew that curio cabinets of today trace back to curiosity of years gone by? “The curiosity was a way of saying “Look – scientific know-how, refined cultural tastes, technological expertise, and a witty sensibility – I contain all this.”

This book has stayed with me since I closed the cover on it that Saturday evening. A friend at work had heard the same radio show & found the topic interesting so we have talked about it. I’ve mentioned the book to several other friends. I actually think I’ll be giving copies to several dear ones to read and enjoy. I’ll continue to ‘bug my kids in TX and WI‘ with questions of “did you know…” and seek out more info about things that engage them.

Among my favorite passages that I keep coming back to:

 “A serendipity deficit make innovation harder, because innovation relies on unexpected collisions of knowledge and ideas.”

“Whoever you are and whatever start you get in life, knowing stuff makes the world more abundant with possibility and gleams of light more likely to illuminate the darkness. It opens the universe a little.”

“There is one [step] on which I would place greater emphasis – the store of general materials in the idea-producer’s reservoir – …[T]he principle of constantly expanding your experience, both personally and vicariously, does matter tremendously in any idea-producing job.” – James Webb Young

“When you live somewhere boring – and we all live somewhere boring – then we have a choice about the way we will see that place. We can spend our days thinking like everyone else, seeing the same thing over and over, and never once wondering about how they got that way, or why stayed that way, or how they could be better. Or, we can learn. And if we make the choice to learn, and to be curious about the things around us, then we are essentially making the choice never to be bored again. – Laura McInerney

The author closes the book with this call to action – a choice that we each can make as we travel through our days.

“…we have a choice. We can decide to explore the worlds of knowledge that present themselves to us. Or…we can turn our face from the beauty and mystery and make for the next appointment.”

What choice do you make? What keeps your curious?

How has your curiosity helped you recently?