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:


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:


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.


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!



Days scurry by so quickly, and when you are dealing with weather where one day it seems to definitely be spring and the next, definitely winter, it is hard to tell time at all. That is not an excuse, but it is an explanation as to what so many of us are experiencing lately. Euphoria – spring is here!!! Despondence – it is still snowing!! Oh bother! There were still lots of good things!

Birdsongs in the Morning – Until it changes, I forget how quiet winter is. On those days when it snows overnight, and I walk outside in the morning, the peace and beauty of the winter morning is pretty awesome. But it is so quiet! Not so when springtime arrives! I am now waking to the sound of birds singing, and when I walk out to get the paper, it is a chorus of songs. That in your face reality of a nature transition is both a good thing for the week, and a beautiful transition. Next thing you know, the hummingbirds will be here!

Kansas City Bier Company
– As we get closer to realizing our own concept of making beer for the people, Kansas City Bier Company is up and running. It is weird that it is in a place where we once shopped for baby furniture, but that weirdness didn’t last for long. Dan and I went there on Saturday at about 2:00. The day was okay, but nothing great. The place was bustling! Most of the tables were filled with people who appeared to be hanging with groups and having fun. There are only snacks offered, so the draw is the beer and the atmosphere. It was very fun to see! We both had a flight of all of their German beers. We spent some time analyzing and comparing notes. We both left feeling happy for the founders; glad that we made the decision to go there for a visit, and full of some good German beer. Added bonus: they gave me a couple stickers!

Proud and excited – Several years ago, I read this book by one of my favorite authors, Tracy Kidder. It was called Mountains Beyond Mountains and it was about a doctor named Paul Farmer. Back in the 1990s (?), Dr. Farmer started to go to Haiti to treat people – in between his training to be a physician. It became a passion. His work created a program called Partners in Health. Paul Farmer is a rockstar do-gooder who still balances scholarly work with his philanthropy. Last week, my nephew messaged me that he has been chosen to spend a year working with Partners in Health before he goes to medical school. I am so excited for him and the people that he will encounter. They will be lucky!

Engage – I really try to make each day one where I can feel proud of myself for how I let it happen. I do believe that we usually have a choice. This is a little off topic, but while I was eating dinner tonight I was watching my beloved Not My Grandma’s Ravioli. Mo’s cooking partner tonight was a grandma who had spent months of her youth hiding from Nazi’s and having many of her family and friends murdered. She seemed like one of the happiest people you would want to meet. She personifies the fact that attitude depends on your willingness to step out and engage. This video that I came across this week reflected that!

Funny things that Dan Says – He makes me laugh. Last weekend I was doing something late in the afternoon. Dan was taking a little rest on the couch (as both of us are prone to do on weekends). Before he laid down we had talked about what we were going to do for the rest of the night. When I noticed that he was awake, I asked him what was going on. His response: “I am laying here watching floaters in my eyes until I get a cocktail.” Just typing this makes me laugh. That boy has my number.

Have a wonderful rest of your week everyone and make sure you notice the 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!.


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).


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,, 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!


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.