Last Week’s Good Things

weekAfter the tumultuousness and eventfulness of June, July gave some weeks to regroup and begin to get back into normal. By the last week of July, I was definitely feeling that I had regained a little of the structure that had been lost. I am not completely there yet. There are things – like going to the gym – that still haven’t made their way back into my schedule. They will. And looking back at last week, I can already see some  old faithfuls returning on my list of good things. Here are five of the ones that I made note of:

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  1. Begin Again – We had begun a movie night date with friends at the beginning of the year, but it took a couple month hiatus. Last week, we got it back into the schedule. We started our night with cocktails and Chinese food in a restaurant that could have been taken out of Lost in Translation. Our movie choice was Begin Again with Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo. It was – like its creator’s predeseccor, Once – a sweet film about connections and choices and music. There is nothing bad about sitting in a theater with people you like, enjoying a movie with loaded listenable tunes.HPIM0800
  2. Yssel getting married – Dan has been in Rotary for a number of years. I have written before about what a great organization Rotary is, and what wonderful work they do. Beside that, we have reaped Rotary benefit by getting to host international visitors who come to the Midwest to learn about many different things. A few years ago, we hosted Yssel, from South Africa. He was the first guy we would host, so I wasn’t sure how that would go. Turns out, it went great! We had so much fun with him, and over the course of a few days, we became solid friends. This past weekend, Yssel got married and pictures of him and his bride greeted us on Facebook. Life gives you lots of opportunities. Getting to know someone from another country is a pretty great thing! There should be more of that going on.marigold
  3. Giant Marigolds and Zinnias – My favorite flower, I think, is the marigold. It is strong and colorful and I marigold smell is an all time favorite scent. This year, I planted marigolds and zinnias in my raised bed. I planted them from seed, and I expected they were just your standard variety. The plants that are filling my bed are monstrous. Most of them are taller than me. I am short, but that does not mean that a marigold should tower over me. It is pretty stunning sight, and every time I walk out my back door and see them, it is a super good things!
  4. Pasta with Beans and Rosemary – On my day off last week, I wanted to cook something different. Even though it was a beautiful day, I wanted to do a pasta – but not something too heavy. The recipe was from Smitten Kitchen – one of my favorite sites. It worked for me, but I can’t see how one could go wrong with al dente pasta – a light veggie sauce with tasty beans and a rosemary, garlic oil sauce.
  5. Working on my book – Also to celebrate getting back to normal, I returned to my desk to work on my book on my day off! The section that I am working on is pretty amazing. It really reflects how people can put their mind to something and make it work. It was so nice to be back with the story.

I hope your week was a good one, and the days ahead are even better!!

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Last ?’s Good Things

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It has been almost a month since I posted! That is the worse performance I have had yet. There are definitely excuses to be submitted, but I think the better thing is to just to get on with it. To ground myself, I am going to take a look back at that month that was and pick out memorable good things. Onward!

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Kids Were Home – While right now, it already seems like it was ages ago, we did have both kids and their significant others under our roof – all at once – during the last month. That was a first that has happened, and I can’t wait for the next! Our little house had to compromise a little to accommodate everyone, but it worked. There were some first  meetings among them that were sweet. I had a day that we spent eating Oklahoma Joe’s and then wandering the zoo. We played games and we ate around Kansas City like nobody’s business. I have such sweet memories of the kids while they were growing up and all of the things we used to do together. This having adult children who live away from you is something that you adjust to, but is never completely easy. I like to be with them. I like to sit in the same room with them. I like to be more keyed into what is going on with them. I like to share meals with them. I like to get to know their partners better. When they leave, there is always still an achy heart. But they will be back!

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A Happy Announcement – So, during that time we had the kids home, something very happy happened. On our 32nd anniversary, Jose asked Ali to marry him and she said yes. Dan and I both are so happy for both of them. Seeing them so happy with each other, makes us confident that their decision to spend their lives together is a good one. This is another new phase of our lives, but what a wonderful one. 

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My New Office – Six years ago, my office got moved from inside the hospital to a trailer about a block away. Granted, it was a big trailer that held all of my very wonderful team members also, and my office did have a lovely view of downtown Kansas City. Nevertheless, it had its down sides. When we moved to the trailer, it was noted that it would be temporary. Temporary ended last month! I am now in a newly renovated building that houses most everyone in our department. My office is spacious with beautiful big tall windows. I am still in the midst of figuring out how to personalize it, but it is getting there. 

IMG_0989Making a new dish – Last weekend, as I emerged from everything that was going on, I decided that it was time to cook something new. When we were in Louisville last year, we went to Milkwood which is Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant. We tasted lots of dishes, all of which had wonderful flavors. Since then, I got his cookbook that is fun to look at, but which I had not cooked out of too much. Saturday I made his Rice Bowl With Beef, Onions, Collards, Fried Egg, and Corn Rémoulade. I am a pretty good cook, mainly because I pick good recipes and I follow directions well, but this may have been the best thing that I have every made. The Corn Rémoulade alone was so tasty. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have sat with a spoon and just eaten that like pudding. It was fun to prep this meal with all of the steps. It was fun to set the table and pour a wine. It was a very good thing to sit and share it with Dan – and, holy cow, was it delicious!

IMG_1004New Notebook – It seems appropriate that I got to start a new notebook during this time. Finishing off my last one, I looked back on its pages and appreciated all that it captured. When I think of all of the journals that I have kept through the years, I think this format makes me happiest. It kind of logs my life in both a reflective and positive way.

So, there it is. A new post. I am happy to be back!

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week seems like a blur of many things, but here are some things that made me happy during it.

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Cook for Courage Event for Child Protection CenterThe Child Protection Center is a nonprofit agency where children who are suspected of having been abused can go to for an age-appropriate, safe, forensics interview. The work they do is pretty amazing, and, unfortunately, the need is large. Last year, they served over 750 children! For the first time, the agency put on a major event to raise funds for the center. Cook for Courage brought together six area chefs – each of them had to do their take on ribs and a side dish. A beautiful evening, held on a bridge!, where we got to eat delicious concoctions, while donating to a good cause, all adds up to a very good thing!

Dinner at EBTEBT is a restaurant that has been serving meals in Kansas City in the same place for many, many years. We had never been there, but we had in our minds that it might be the kind of place that could have molded jello on the menu. We put our preconceptions aside and made our way to EBT for dinner last week. Dan writes about the experience really well on his blog, but I have to include it on mine too. It was really a wonderful experience and the food was fantastic! The trendy and “Latest and greatest” is not always better. EBT exuded classic!

 

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From my garden – Hmmm. Lots of food centered things this week! Oh well, sometimes that is just the way it goes. On Friday, I made a salad for dinner. I grilled some chicken and I tossed it with lettuce, radishes, onions, avacado and cheese. What made me really happy about this, was that the lettuce and the radishes came from my garden! They were pretty and fresh, and it was delicious!

phantomThe Phantom TollboothDan and I got to go hear Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer talk several months ago. It felt like such an amazing gift to hear two giants in the world of children’s literature talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth. The guilty part of it, however, is that I really don’t think that I ever read The Phantom Tollbooth. I thought maybe I did, but reading it last week, I could not remember that I had. Oh man! It is such a wonderful book and there were many, many memorable moments and lines. Because it was the 50th anniversary edition, the book included essays by a  number of writers and others saying what the book meant to them. Pure pleasure!

 

The end of my notebook – Last year I started keeping a different kind of journal than I ever have. I had found this great (de)composition book at a college bookstore. Using some ideas from Austin Kleon, I did a page-a-week format. There isn’t really a format, but it could include me trying a different kind of handwriting, drawing, lists, notes, to dos, good things to remember, ephemera pasted or taped in – really anything. I have loved keeping this up. It makes me happy just looking at it or opening up to any page. Unlike journals I have kept in the past, this doesn’t hold troubles, it holds happy things. This past week finished off (de)composition book #1. Book #2 is ready for action. I am ready for weeks ahead with much to be happy about.

Ready for a new week? Let’s go!

Last Week’s Good Things

goodWhen you can’t sleep, what better thing to do then just get out of bed and write about last week’s good things? 

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Making and sharing pierogies for Easter – Although it seems like a gazillion years ago, Easter was officially during last week. On Easter Sunday, we had family and friends over – 13 in total. Late in the afternoon, Dan’s sister came over and the three of us became a pierogie making machine. Pierogies, if you are not familiar, are a Polish dish – very much like a ravioli. The family version that Dan and his sister enjoy is filled with cottage cheese, sour cream and lots of pepper. Our finely tuned system included Dan making and rolling out the dough, me filling, cutting and crimping, and Laura boiling, buttering, and baking. The result was delicious, and because it was such a beautiful day, everyone took their plate out to the patio. We sat around talking of pierogies of old, the welcoming of spring, and whatnot. That was a fine example of a holiday celebration.

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Austin KleonAustin Kleon is an artist and author. He has done a TED talk and a keynote at SXSW about creativity and being out there with your creativity – show your work. As part of Kansas City’s Middle of the Map forum, I got a ticket to go hear Austin speak on Tuesday night. Work has been more than hectic these days, so leaving work at a reasonable hour seemed decadent. Add to that, going to a cool space in the Crossroads arts district – where they welcomed me with a free copy of one of Austin’s books and a cold Boulevard Pale Ale – heavenly! Austin’s talk was all about fostering creativity followed by a charming Q & A session. He also has one of the most fun book signatures I have encountered.

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Happy Hour Symphony – I guess I can’t whine about work hours too much since last Monday, Dan came to pick me up at work so we could go to the Kansas City Symphony’s Happy Hour. I had no idea that these existed, but we got an invite to come along with friends. This is a free series offered by the symphony and it includes time prior to the concert where you can hang around the beautiful lobby in the Kauffman Center and have a drink and chat. The concert itself only lasts an hour, so many people were there with their kids. We heard three pieces played by various ensembles. I had not been in Helzberg Hall before, but it is fantastically gorgeous with not a bad seat and incredible sound.

Mary Roach – It was a eventful week! Thursday night, I met friends at another beautiful Kansas City space – the Kansas City Central Library. It always makes me think of a New York Public library at a smaller, but just as lovely, scale. Thursday’s menu was a talk by author, Mary Roach. Mary’s most recent book is Gulp, which is a guidebook of your alimentary canal. The talk was a dialogue with a library staff member, followed by questions and answers. Mary has had a pretty fascinating writing life – writing books about sex, cadavers, life in space, and the afterlife. A author who spins science well is a friend of mine.

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Happy birthday to Dan – Saturday we got to celebrate Dan’s birthday. Because he had to go into work in the morning, I spent some time doing some shopping and preparing for the requested birthday meal. The main dish was T-bone steaks which I got from McGonigles. I made twice baked potatoes with cheddar, sour cream, bacon and added a good amount of heat. Heirloom cherry tomatoes with avacados made the meal healthy. Dessert was Shatto vanilla ice cream with a choice of toppings. Friends were over to share in the bounty. We welcomed Dan into his new year delightfully well.

It is Wednesday already so I need to start enumerating what has been going on this week. I hope that your good things are piling up!

Last Week’s Good Things

 

apr6It was 80 degrees in Kansas City on Saturday. It was a day that I should have had the top down on my car, mowed the grass, planted something, had a drink on the patio, or washed my car. I didn’t do any of those things, but here are some other good things that happened during the week.

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1. Union College wins the Division I Hockey Championship – Little Union College in Schenectady, NY is where both Dan and I went to school. It is an idyllic little liberal arts school in the middle of a very working class town. It is known much more for academics than sports. But this week, the Union College Dutchmen (yep, you read that right), plowed past Boston College and the University of Minnesota to be the victor of the Frozen Four. Saturday night, we had friends over and watched the game over cocktails and locally made kielbasa. That’s the way it should be done.

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2. Flowering Kansas City – I always think that there is one week in Kansas City that outshines all others as far as showing off its beautiful nature. Maybe there will be better, but it is going to be hard to beat last week for the best. Magnolias, Bradford Pear, Forsythia, Redbuds, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths! Even the dandelions looked bright and cheery. Well done nature!

3. Pattie Mansur wins a school board seat! – I met Pattie when her daughter became a member of my Girl Scout troop. It was such a gift to me to become acquainted with such a caring and fun family. There are always people in your life that you know you can count on. That is the Mansur family. Even though Girl Scout days are long past, I  still run into Pattie occasionally. We always eagerly catch up. When she announced that she was running for school board, I was so excited for our city. This week, voters came out and elected a wonderful advocate for all of the children of our city.

s4. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst – I love to read and I love pretty books. When those two elements are combined, it is more than delightful. This week I finished reading S.. I can’t really adequately describe what an amazing book this is. There is marginalia of several different colors snaking its way around most every page of the book. Tucked inside you will find mass cards, napkins with maps, letters, code solvers … You just don’t know what is next. I must say that I enjoyed the experience of reading the book more than the book itself, but that is not really fair. I know he is J.J. Abrams, but the fact that publishers still gave the okay for this makes me optimistic about the future of book books.

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5. 10,000th Blog View – Early this week, someone clicked on my blog for the 10,000th time. That is pretty cool to me. It is not the sign of a hugely successful blog, but it is a sign that many of you read what I write and choose to come back. There are weeks that I don’t feel like posting this or anything. I usually convince myself that my being there is both good for me, and for the people who might read it and recognize good things that they otherwise may not have. Thanks for being part of my second 10,000!

Have a good week and be aware of the good things!

 

 

Last Week’s Good Things

 

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We are into April! It is hard to believe that the first quarter of 2014 is behind us. For me, the week was one of catching up and keeping busy. Since Dan wasn’t here for most of it, I found things to keep myself occupied. Also, with spring starting to peek through more often than not, just paying attention to that was a good thing! Here are other things that caught my attention:

1.  Sounds in the morning – I remember shoveling snow a few months ago and marveling at how quiet it was. There were no cars on the road, so the opportunity for noise was nil. That is winter. Spring is so much different. This week, stepping out of the house each morning at about 5:15, I have been greeted by a louder and louder cacophony of birds. It sounds more like a jungle than a neighborhood street in Kansas City. I am glad that I am not trying to sleep through it! No matter – It sounds like a change of season, which is completely great!

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2.  Wentworth Military Ball – Ali has gone to two military balls in the past few months. For each, she wore a beautiful outfit, her hair was lovely, and her make-up was perfect. Saturday was my turn. Wentworth had its military ball and I did my spousely duty and got myself ready to go. It was amusing that both Ali and my sister wished that they were here to offer me support in getting ready, I think that I did fine! Hair (I chose a Goody barette and a bobby pin) – makeup (I had on some chapstick) – clothes (it was something I wore at another such occasion – but I did get some new shoes (flats)). Whatever I looked like did not matter. It was a night for the students. Again, I was overwhelmed by the respect and dignity that the students at the school exhibit. I do not know that I have been called ma’am as many times as I was Saturday night. This is obviously not something that I joyously go into, but once there, it is pretty darn special.

3.  Cooking for Myself – Dan left for California early Monday morning and he came home well past my bedtime on Friday. During that time, I did not have a single frozen meal and I only ate out once! The rest of the time, I cooked for myself. One night it was a ground round burger/steak that I peppered a lot and served like a cube steak. One night it was a hearty salad. One night it was a chicken breast with mushrooms. The best was Dragon Noodles. I had heard about this dish and website on one of my favorite podcasts. I decided to save it for the last night, which was a great plan. It was really hot and tasty and delicious. A good way to end my bachelor stint

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4.  Picture of my dad on Facebook – The Internet is bizarre. One morning this week, I woke up and looked at Facebook as I was doing my regular morning routine. One of my high school classmates had posted a picture of the groundbreaking of my elementary school. This was probably in 1967 or so. In the picture are many Sinclairville folk that I recognize. Howard Green, our town postmaster is there. Mrs. Bloomer, our Principal is there. And so is my dad (fourth from right). He was the town lawyer, so he was there for the event. He was probably 35; youngest guy there. It made me think of him at that age, and time. I tend to think of my dad in a different time. This picture was a really nice recollection.

UPPERCASEissue21cover5. Hammersmith and Uppercase – In that I had been by myself all week, I figured I needed to treat myself. On Friday, I put in some work on my book, and later in the afternoon, I went downtown to find some shoes for the ball. Bob Jones Shoes is a wondrous place – even for the non-fashion savvy. After I found the appropriate sensible black flat, I went over to Hammersmith. Hammersmith is a store that also is a wonderful letterpress printer. It is an establishment full of cool cards, posters, gift wrap, and other things that they find interesting. It is my source for one of the most beautiful magazine eye candy that I experience. Uppercase is a wonderful art journal that takes a theme and throws the kitchen sink of ideas at it. The result is page after page of lovely images and accompanying text. I adore it, and when I am feeling wanty, I go buy myself one. It is pricey for a magazine, but I go back to them again and again. The latest issue is patterns – love it, and it is worth it!

I hope that wherever you are,spring is springing out. This week I saw a magnolia and a forsythia in bloom. Wishing you similar!

 

Last Week’s Good Things

 

photoThis was the week that Dan and I listened to Pharrell Williams quite a bit. That means that the song Happy was often in our ears. That wasn’t the only good thing this week. Here are a few more:

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1. Larry Tye talking about Superman at the Library – The Kansas City Library has an amazing schedule of speakers during any month. I can remember so many good authors and talks that I have gone to over the years. Last week, I left work and headed to the beautiful downtown library to hear a talk about Superman. Before the talk, I got to roam through the current exhibit focused upon how American comic books took on the Nazis, Hitler and the Holocaust. After that, I got my complementary glass of wine, and plate of snacks, and sat down to hear a very engaging Mr. Tye talk about the genesis of Superman. That was not a bad way to end a day!

2. The Etsy Gift – Dan had been telling me that he had bought me a gift on Etsy, but he wasn’t quite sure if I was deserving of it. This made me pretty sure that this was going to be something greatly amusing. I was not, however, prepared for the awesomeness of what it was. For the past few years, we have been talking about starting a brewpub called Goats & Rabbits. The Goats and the Rabbits were the two political factions in old time Kansas City politics. Over the past several months, the conversation about starting the restaurant has become much more serious as Sam and Jean are making plans to come to Kansas City. It is really getting exciting. And on opening day of that restaurant that will be made, I will be wearing this:

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3. Setting the Table for Company – After we came home from our trip to Italy, Dan and I both agreed that we should be more conscious about how we eat. One of the things that we talked about was sitting at the table for meals. As the kids left, it became more routine to sit in the living room and eat. We have gotten somewhat better at that, but there is still work to do. What is great about Dan and me sitting at the table is the same thing that becomes even better when the number of people at the table expands. I love setting the table for a meal. I like figuring out what dishes will be needed. I like setting down the plates, silverware and glasses. I like putting together a centerpiece and ironing the tablecloth and napkins. Saturday night we hosted our dinner club, so I got to get my table-setting jones met. Prettiness ensued.

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4. Good books – I finished two different, but both great books this week. Sam recommended Mission Street Food, particularly for the philosophy that they take regarding business philanthropy. The book is an autobiography of their restaurants that started from a food truck night in San Francisco and grew to have a massive cult following. The other book was the novel, Salvage The Bones by Jesslyn Ward. This is the story of a family in Louisiana dealing with alcoholism, poverty, teenage pregnancy, and cruelty – as Hurricane Katrina is coming in. This was my gym book and as my treadmill time ended on Friday, I had about a chapter left. I reset the time and went to the end. It is quite stunning story telling. She manages to get such sweetness in the midst of some really pretty horrible scenes. It was definitely worth extra time on the treadmill.

5. Good Moods – There are just those days when there is nothing special, but it just feels great to be who you are; where you are. I had one of those days on Friday. I should have been feeling a little badly because I didn’t get any book work done, but I didn’t. I just reveled in the moments of the day. I read, exercised, made lists, grocery shopped, organized … Nothing special, but very special.

I hope all of us have some great mood days ahead of us!

 

Last Week’s Good Things

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There was one day last week that I had gotten home late and I put a Lean Cuisine in the microwave for my dinner. Dan called me right when I was about to start eating. He was in Florida and had just had dinner along the ocean. As I talked to him, I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing. That wasn’t cool, but, despite that unfortunate scenario, the week did hold some very good things.

Sharon Jones, Superstar – Saturday night we went into Lawrence for dinner and a concert. It was the first time I have been in Liberty Hall right along Mass Street in downtown Lawrence. It is a gem! The opening act, Valerie June, was really wonderful. So much so that J & M made plans to go to Springfield on Monday to see her again. And then there was Sharon Jones. This woman is a few months from finishing her treatment for pancreatic cancer and she has the almost bald head to show it. That woman put on one of the most amazing shows with more energy than I have mustered in several days combined. I can’t even choose what was my favorite, but this performance that I recorded on my phone (note: I am not good at this and I am short) is stellar. “Get Up and Get Out” refers typically to dude troubles. Saturday night she turned it around and it was cancer she was addressing herself to. Woman is amazing.

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Seven Habits – There is a group of us at work reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.Each month we do a chapter. Last week it was Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind. Stephen Covey, the book’s author describes how by being in control of our own mission, we can basically be a better person. He describes how when people let other people or things control them, they are in a tenuous position. However, if one is centered on principles, there is always guidance. This book was written more than twenty years ago and it is just timeless in its advice. It is a pleasure to visit this again and try to do more of the things I should have done other times I read it.

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Nighthawk article in the New Yorker – I have a habit of not reading The New Yorker intact. Every so often, I go through our piles and I pull out articles I want to read. I then staple those into articles and put them into yet, another pile. They are there to grab. Last week I picked up an article from 2012. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it, but it really was a treat to read. The essay was in the food issue amidst a variety of great food writing. Tony Earley was the writer – someone I knew from a book he read called Jim the Boy. The article describes  the writer going to college as a guy who never had to take care of himself. During an evolutionary journey, he learns to cook some basic things and to understand the satisfaction of that. There was one passage that I loved: “Belatedly, I understood that the sustenance contained in food you cook for yourself is almost biological, and that sometimes, what makes a fried-bologna-and-onion sandwich so delicious has nothing to do with the bologna or the onion.” That is the pleasure of cooking.

Family texting – With Dan out of town and Ali on vacation, there was a lot of mobile device communication going on. Every now and then, there would be a text chain that involved the whole family. Our chatter may not always be the most appropriate, but it almost always makes me laugh and appreciative of my luck to be part of this group.

Things that happened at work – I don’t talk about work too much on my blog, but good things do add up and I want to recognize them. Here were a few from this week! Some of my co-workers joined me in a volunteering for a new event that is happening. I walked down the hallway in the hospital, and there was a little guy in a helmet running in circles and chortling as if he was doing the most fun thing in the world. It was joyous to watch. “Good mornings” and “good nights” as people walk by my door or make an effort to pop their head in. Someone bringing good soap in. Being brought into discussions because they want my opinion. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that means the most.

I hope anyone who reads this takes the time to find their own good things! They are out there!

Last Week’s Good Things

Jan14Last week was the first normal week I have had in a long time. Although I miss the holiday visitors, it felt good to get back into somewhat of a routine. In the midst of work and play, there were many good things. Here were a few of them.

  1. I got an IPhone – This seems hopelessly materialistic, but there is actually more to this story than the fact that I really do think this phone is pretty fun. I have had a number of issues with my previous phone’s service. I wasn’t getting service in my house – which is a little problematic for a communication device. So we changed carriers and we got new phones. The rest of the story is that I had to take care of some things with my previous carrier and they were apologetic for my issues and gracious in taking care of my needs. I am still glad that I have made the change, but the breakup was without drama.
  2. Impromptu lunch with friends – We got a note on Saturday asking if we could meet some friends in a couple hours for lunch. It was my first visit to Port Fonda in Westport. It was a sunny warm day after a week that had some ruggedly cold temperatures. For a couple hours, we sat around and had some good food, good drinks, and excellent catching up time. We run by our schedules so much. It is good to have time where you can just do what comes up.
  3. Healthcare experiences – Friday I had my third physical therapy appointment with Erin at Laughlin Performance & Physical Therapy. She has been working with me on some back issues. After the appointment and handing me my healthy back program, Erin told me that she didn’t have to see me again. If I had any more problems, I just needed to get back in touch with her. She impressed me so much. I expected that I would be seen to the extent that my insurance would allow it. Instead, she celebrated my progress and sent me on my way. From my PT appointment, I went to the dentist with a broken tooth. I wouldn’t call this a celebration, but it struck me that it was a pretty great thing that I can have this gross broken down tooth repaired to the extent that it can still be attached to my gums. So far so good!
  4. My work holiday party – My office saves the holiday party until after the fact. Saturday was the day. One of the doctors hosted and prepared for us many wonderful Mexican dishes. Everyone else brought a dessert or a beverage. The house was full with grouping taking the opportunity to have non-work chats. I felt really lucky to be a part of this. There is a camaraderie among everyone – no matter what their role it. People seem to really like each other. I still remember the day that I got my job and thinking how lucky I was. I still feel that way.
  5. Thai Coconut Curry Soup – Another cooking triumph! One of my favorite dishes when we go to a Thai restaurant is Tom Kha Gai which is a coconut chicken soup. Last week I made a recipe saved recipe that I am unsure of the source. Looking it over, I was hoping that it would replicate the taste that I love. It ruled. It had the heat, the freshness and the flavoring that I desired. The flaked coconut that I bought – even though it was a little pricey – toasted, and sprinkled on top of the soup …. so yummy. I mixed it up a little and used avacado rather than tomato. Thumbs up for this one!

 

Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

  1. 4 cup chicken stock
  2. 5 clove garlic, peeled and chunked
  3. 2 inches ginger, peeled and chunked
  4. 1 Tablespoon thai green curry paste
  5. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  6. 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  7. ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
  8. ¾ cup cilantro, + 1/2 cup for garnish
  9. 1 cup unsweeetened coconut milk
  10. ¾ cup thinnly sliced shallots
  11. 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  12. 1 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/4 inch strips
  13. 2 Tablespoon asian fish sauce
  14. 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  15. 2 tsp brown sugar
  16. 1 jalapeno, sliced in rings
  17. 1 small tomato , seeded and diced
  18. ½ cup shaved coconut, or unsweeteded coconut flakes toasted for garnish
1.

In a large pot over high heat, combine chicken stock, garlic, ginger, curry paste, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth over a bowl through a fine mesh sieve; discard solids. return broth to pot. Add coconut milk, shallots, mushrooms and chicken. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

2.

In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and jalapeno, if desired, stir until sugar is dissolved, the add mixture to soup. Garnish with tomato, coconut shavings, and cilantro; serve hot.

 I hope your week is a wonderful one with many good things!

Last Week’s Good Things

DSCF7851I am returning to my roots and doing my best to pay attention to all of the good things around me. Here are those that made me happy last week!.

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Kleenex with Vicks! – A sense memory of childhood is Vicks Vapor Rub. When I had a cold, my mom would pull out the little jar from the medicine cabinet and rub some of it on my chest and a dab under my nose. The mentholated heat and vapor got the healing going. Since right before Christmas, I have been the Kleenex corporation poster child. I go nowhere without a stash of tissues that I use in massive quantities. We had to replenish our stash at Costco, and when I went to get a new box, I found that a few of the boxes were separately wrapped. It was because these special four boxes were permeated with Vicks! The moisturizing tissues were a big step when that happened, but this is brilliance. It probably is not something that I want when I am healthy, but during these days when I am still a sniffly mess, this is a wonderful thing.

Deb Perelman’s Mushroom Bourguignon via Food52 – Deb Perelman is the author of  the beautiful food blog, Smitten Kitchen. I have a number of recipes saved from her blog and I have given a few a go. They are always tasty, but they never look as beautiful as hers. Food52 is another food blog that I follow. More than a year ago, I clipped a recipe from Food 52 that is actually a Smitten Kitchen recipe. Friday, I wanted to make something warm and hearty to go with the cold, icy weather we are having. This rich mushroom stew was perfect. As the blog post noted, there was a fair amount of chopping prep, but other than that, it is an easy recipe to put together. It smelled delicious cooking, and it finished rich with its own meatiness. I used a mix of portabella and cremini mushrooms, and I even found some real, non-frozen pearl onions. I served it over wide egg noodles. Rather than top it with sour cream, I just added some at the end. I wish I had taken a picture so I could do a side by side. For a change, my dish looked just as good as the one pictured on the food blog!

Deb Perelman’s Mushroom Bourguignon (via Smitten Kitchen, via Food 52)

Servings: (4) 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 lbs. 1/4-inch sliced portobello or cremini mushrooms
1 cup pearl onions (thawed if frozen)
½ carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional, but use vegetable to make it vegetarian; the dish works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
Egg noodles, for serving (polenta, buttered potatoes or farro work well too)
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms and pearl onions until they begin to take on a little color, but the mushrooms do not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. It helps to do this in a few batches. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream and sprinkle with chives or parsley (optional).

 G&R

Goats and Rabbits – For Christmas, Sam got Dan some amazing business cards announcing Goats and Rabbits. Goats and Rabbits will be a Ryan family brewpub in Kansas City. The business cards were a step in making this idea that has been percolating for awhile now, real. This week, GoatandRabbits.com, Goat And Rabbits on Facebook, and @GoatsandRabbits (tagline: Kansas City’s greatest brewpub still not in existence), all went live. Dan and Sam have an on-going email discussion on the whats, hows and whys – with occasional input from other members of the team. This is fun and exciting and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Follow us and like us to find out.pitcher2

Excellent Customer Service from Mignon Faget – Ali got us a beautiful pitcher from a wonderful New Orleans shop for Christmas. This week, we used it for dinner so I washed it and set it in the drying rack. About an hour later, I was in the living room and I heard something that sounded like an exploding light bulb. I went into the kitchen and there was that pitcher – intact, but shattered. It was bizarre. I emailed the store, and before the day was over, they had my address and were sending a new one my way. They sent Ali a note with the tracking number as well as their thanks for being a customer. Actions like this mean so much. They didn’t have to replace it. A sincere apology  could have gone a long way. Kudos to them!

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Dark Horse Distillery Tour – Off of I-35 in Lenexa, Kansas there is an unassuming industrial park building where some pretty neat things are happening. Since 2010, the Garcia family has been putting together an operation where bourbon, rye, white whiskey, and vodka are distilled on premises. They supplement the liquor making with a beautiful event space that can host all sorts of social occasions. Thanks to Rotary, we had a New Year’s Eve day tour of the operation. The family spirit is everywhere. The sister was there to check us in. The marketing brother started us out with the story. The distilling brother went through the mechanics. They spent a lot of time answering questions and showing us around. This is a small scale shop where every step happens on site. There is a mill for the grain, that doesn’t look a whole heck of a lot bigger than what Dan uses for his beer. The bottler has four spouts – they bottle four at a time! Right now, the distilling brother hand numbers and signs each of the bourbon and rye bottles. They have dreams of growing, so I don’t know how long things will look the way that they do now, but this was pretty cool. The tastes were very good too.

I hope everyone who is reading this has come into the new year with many good things, and that they continue to accumulate each day of the year.