Thursday, July 31, 2014

Great-Aunt Pooch's Cherry Bounce

I sat down last night with a quart of cherries and made them into something tasty... but I have to wait for three months before they're really ready to eat!  I made cherry bounce, an old-fashioned Wisconsin tradition that I'm finding not many people know about.  And I'm aiming to change that, at least in our group of friends.  Gotta start small!   

Cherry bounce is sour cherries soaked in booze, typically whiskey, bourbon, or brandy.  I went full-on "Sconnie" on this and used Korbel brandy, the number one brandy in the state.  (Read about brandy being super-popular in Wisconsin but nobody seems to know why.)  I used brandy so we could use it to make brandy old-fashioneds, plus I don't like whiskey or bourbon. 

Even though cherry bounce is a simple recipe — cherries, booze, and sugar, it requires a lot of patience to wait until they're fully marinated.  It's definitely a gamble. I have no idea what I'm doing since I've never made anything like this before and only tried it at the Tip Top Tavern this weekend (they had a homemade cherry brandy old-fashioned as their drink special, yespleasethankyou!). I hope this works out.  Oh, and you don't refrigerate it, you just throw the cherries in a jar with a bunch of booze and sugar, which are both preservatives, so it ends up that I'm making pickled cherries! Who knew!


Island of Consumption Door County Cherry Bounce 

The great-aunt Pooch in the title isn't my great-aunt, nobody in my family made anything as cool as this.  The recipe I followed described great-aunt Pooch, so I borrowed it because I thought it gave the aura of a time-tested recipe passed down through generations. 

I picked up the sour cherries at our Northside farmers' market on Sunday, the cherries come from Sturgeon Bay (way up north).  I was a little hesitant about the unknown sour cherries and really wanted to use the yummy sweet cherries we always get, but the guy at the stand reminded me that cherry bounce is typically made with sour cherries, so I conceded and went the traditional route.  I had never had a sour cherry, they're not particularly sour, just not as sweet as the big dark Bings.  The sour ones are definitely smaller though.
Difference between a sour Montmorency cherry (left) and a sweet Bing cherry. 
I used a toothpick to poke a couple holes in each cherry and then drop it into one of two freshly-washed big quart jars. It took 20 minutes to work through all of those cherries, but it was meditative. I had to be careful though, I was afraid I'd poke my fingers by mistake since the cherries were so small. As I did it I was kind of questioning why I was putting holes in them, but I realized that there needed to be a symbiotic flavor exchange while they marinated for three months, the brandy needs to get into the cherry and the cherry flavor needs to get out into the brandy.

Oh yeah, and the cherries aren't pitted, the recipe specifically said "unpitted cherries", so they're going to be a bit dangerous to eat.  There are dishes made with unpitted cherries because the pits supposedly add extra flavor, so I went along with it based on that concept.
Armed with a toothpick to poke holes. 
I added 1/3 cup sugar to each jar since I read that brandy is likely sweeter than whiskey.  It might not be enough sugar, but we can always add more later. 
Adding sugar with my canning funnel.
Thanks for the funnel, Mom!
Then I topped off both jars with most of a bottle of Korbel brandy and added a broken cinnamon stick to one jar for some flavor variety. I gently shook them a few times to mix in the sugar, but it was slow to dissolve.  I'll probably  I finished off by making my standard fancy-scmancy kitchen labels with masking tape and a marker. Classy! 
A jar of regular and a jar of cinnamon.
Then I put both jars up out of the way on the top shelf of the pantry to rest. Sleep my babies, I'll see you in three months!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of July 28

This Past Week

Husband Jeff is taking some time off before starting at his new engineering firm and he's tackling some projects around the house.  The biggest one is building a banquette (an upholstered bench along a wall) for our dining room.  The room is so narrow and this will allow for more space since we can push the dining room table up to it. We designed it together based on what we saw online for other banquettes and was easiest for him to make since I didn't have a whole lot of preferences. He's also planning to build us new bedside tables, which are actually going to be more of a box-shaped shelf with a couple drawers.  Should be pretty neat.  I also want a hamper that will hold two laundry baskets (saw the idea on Pinterest!) I also requested a bathtub tray so Sonny D can play in the middle of the bathtub instead of putting things on the bathtub ledge and ending up with water running out on the floor. 
Dining room banquette so far.
I picked up some roma/romano beans at the farmers' market and turned them into a delicious dish.  I boiled them for 5 minutes and then tossed them with a garlic oil and breadcrumb topping.  If I can find the time, I'll share the recipe.  I need to figure out a shorter way to share recipes, my standard recipe posts take too much time for me to write up. But anyway, back to the beans, I loved how they were super quick. 
Roma/Romano beans.
Sonny D has been really interested in the doughnut pan so he and I made banana doughnuts with chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles.  So fun! 
Banana doughnuts with chocolate glaze and sprinkles.
Husband Jeff ran in the St Dennis fun run and won third place for his age group (30-39)!  Yay Jeff, way to go!  This summer he has been working on running faster and it has definitely paid off.  
Husband Jeff finishing the St. Dennis run.  He's the guy in front on the sidewalk.
We also went to Waunafest (neighboring town's summer festival) and Sonny D rode his first carnival ride and then later went on his first solo ride!  For his solo ride he was on the little kids' alligator roller coaster.  He had his head down through the whole ride.  He didn't cry, but he didn't seem to like it.  I agree with him, it seemed faster than the previous times we watched it.  We also went to the Tip Top Tavern for dinner with friends.  The fried pickle and carnitas appetizers didn't thrill us, but two of us got the homemade veggie burger and loved it and the other half got the brat casserole, which they loved.  It was a huge slab that looked like an egg bake.  Oh, and Sonny D got a fried baloney sandwich, we called it a hot dog sandwich and he ate half.  It had great bread from a local bakery. I tasted it even though I don't like baloney, and it was quite tasty. 

This Week

  • Monday - I'm finally making Mexican beef over polenta but using turkey instead since that's what we had in the house.  I'm trying a new taco seasoning, the Mrs. Dash low-sodium version.  I hope it's good! 
  • Tuesday - We'll have leftovers for dinner and then I'm heading out to Latin hip-hop cardio class.  The guys might head to the high school pool for open swim.  They tried to go last week, but somebody barfed in the pool. 
  • Wednesday - Sonny D has been home two years, so we're going out to dinner.  It seems crazy that it's two years, feels longer than that.  I don't think we've decided on a place yet. 
  • Thursday - Tonight we've got my company "summer picnic" event, a baseball game.  They actually provide a ballpark buffet (burgers, hot dogs, chicken breast sandwiches), but it's not the greatest quality, so we'll eat at home.  I'm going to make oven-fried fish and zucchini tots.
  • Friday - It's Me & D night and Husband Jeff is going out for yet another baseball game with friends (think this is maybe number 4 for him this summer?).  His night out includes all you can eat and drink, so Sonny D and I are having hot dogs and pesto pasta made with basil from our garden.  I'm not sure what we're doing for the entertainment part of our evening, got any ideas?
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning and then my friend Jessica and I are meeting for shopping at the local outlet mall.  We don't have a ton of time to shop, but we'll make the most of it.  For dinner I want to make peanut butter-stuffed french toast.
  • Sunday - We've got our standard Sunday morning visit to the farmers' market.  Then for lunch we're going out to the Bassett Street Brunch Club to try their food.  The cyc omelet (mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and feta) or farmer's hash (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips with two eggs).  For dinner I had my eye on using up the other package of ground turkey but I came up with too many options - cheeseburger noodle casserole, garlicky eggplant and sausage rigatoni, gochujang meatballs, or Persian kofta kebabs

Wanna Chat?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Freshly Toasted and Not-A-Watermelon

Freshly Toasted

For my morning bowl of oatmeal I have a variety of things to add for flavor and nutrition -- hemp seed, flax seed meal, wheat germ, chopped almonds, chopped pecans, fresh/frozen/dried fruit, cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa powder, etc.  I also have shredded unsweetened coconut and have mixed it in a few times but never found it very satisfying.  Then I decided to take the time to toast it in a dry skillet first.  And the angels from heaven sang!  Oh my gosh, it's sooo much better, it has a thousand times more flavor.  After discovering this, I've been having fresh local raspberries and toasted coconut in my oatmeal every morning that I can. I'm glad I spent that bit of time to try toasting it.  It's amazing how a simple concept like toasting something, can change the flavor completely. 
Freshly toasted coconut.
Of course it sucks to pull out a skillet every morning and take a few minutes to toast this up, and Husband Jeff already makes fun of the amount of time it takes to prepare my breakfast.  But I think it's completely worth it, the flavor is great.  And otherwise I wouldn't even be using the coconut and it would sit in my freezer, lonely.  I'm making it worth it to have it in the house.  This morning I toasted an extra serving and put it in a container for tomorrow, hopefully that works out so I can toast a larger batch every once in a while rather than each morning. 

P.S. - After I discovered how awesome toasted coconut is, I tried toasting hemp seed, but it didn't really seem any different.  Not worth it. 


When I came home the other day I saw this sitting on the counter and the bulbous end was facing me so it looked circular and it was so large I thought it was a personal watermelon!  Of course as I got closer it was obvious it was a gigantic zucchini from our garden that we let go too long. 
Huge zucchini.
This makes it obvious I need to go out and harvest some things.  I have fennel that is probably ready, but I have no idea since we've never grown it before and I'm not a gardener.  Some friends talked about an eggplant sauce recipe they make for pasta and I want to make it, but I can't remember if we even grew eggplant this year. 

Wanna Chat?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of July 21

The previous week was nice and quiet.  Husband Jeff had his last day at his former employer and will be starting at a new place in a few weeks. He's taking some time off to get things done around the house and also relax a bit.  And we closed on our switch from a 30-year mortgage to a 12-year mortgage.  Our payments will go up a chunk per month but it'll save us a ton of money over the life of the loan.  We also switched my car loan from the Honda finance company to our credit union, we'll save about $100 in the end.  Not an amazing deal, but a hundred bucks is a still hundred bucks. 

Husband Jeff did a canoe race on Saturday morning, it involves paddling 1.5 miles in the lake, carrying your canoe 1 mile across land to the other lake, and then paddling some more.  I am so not a canoer (canoeist?) so I'm glad he took our friend Chuck. There was a big after-race party and some friends who were in town joined them, I hope they had a good time. 

On Saturday I went shopping with my awesome interior designer, Sarah Helf. We totally scored at World Market but struck out at Pier1 and Marshalls.  I forgot my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond, but we picked out living room curtains and a new shower curtain and I'll go back and buy those later with the coupons. I love everything we've picked out or bought so far.  I had to admit to her that I haven't had much progress around the house in getting my assigned tasks done, have only cleaned a few surfaces off. I had better get my butt in gear so our house looks as good as what she's planning!   Husband Jeff is going to build a banquette for our dining room while he's off between jobs, he says it'll only take a few days to crank that out.   
Here's a peek at the new table decorations, cushions,
and curtains for the dining room.The wall color will be gray with a hint of
green to coordinate with the bit of green in this center pillow.
At the Sunday farmers' market I bought raspberries, cherries, new-to-me lamb's quarters (a leafy green with properties similar to kale's superfood status), and new-to-me Roma/Romano beans (a broad bean where you eat the whole pod like a green bean).  Can't wait to try the new stuff.  We've also got cucumbers and zucchini ready in our garden along with loads of basil.  The tomatoes are growing, but haven't turned red yet. 

On Sunday we finally made it to A&W after lunch. Sonny D had a chocolate cone, I had a chocolate root beer float, and Husband Jeff had a Sour Patch Kids polar blast (like a Dairy Queen blizzard, ice cream with candy mixed in). We loved it, but it was all too much food for us. 
We had a lovely date night on Sunday with our friends Brian and Kristen at Tempest Oyster Bar for summer restaurant week.  The best dessert that we got was the chocolate pecan tart, I was expecting a shallow tiny tart similar to a pecan pie, but this thing was three layers tall and filled with rich chocolate, loads of huge pecans, and gooey caramel.  So good!  I love restaurant week, there's both a summer version and a winter version.  It's a Sunday through Friday event where restaurants offer fixed-price menus with 3 to 4 appetizer, entree, and dessert choices.   It's typically $15 for a 3-course lunch or $25 for a 3-course dinner.  They've started letting some places charge $30-35 for dinner, probably so they can be a little more creative with the offerings or places who have higher standards for their ingredients. 

This Week

  • Monday - Husband Jeff is going to be gone so Sonny D and I will share a fish entree.  I'm also going to saute the lamb's quarters from the farmers' market, probably Asian style with some sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil. 
  • Tuesday - I'm going out with some girls from the office for a restaurant week lunch at Johnny Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse.  Dinner will be Mexican beef over polenta (I've made it before and we loved it!) Shhh, don't tell the guys, but I'm going to slip in some shredded zucchini and maybe some spinach into the meat mixture.   I'll also try to whip up something with those interesting Roma beans I got at the farmers' market.  Sonny D has a haircut after dinner, he really needs it. 
  • Wednesday - I'm going out for a Moms' Night Out event at 43 North bistro for my third restaurant week meal.  Husband Jeff is going to a Toastmasters training session, so Sonny D gets to hang out with his grandma for the evening.  
  • Thursday - I'm going out for lunch with some coworkers at That BBQ Joint. We all used to be on the same team so hopefully we'll have a good time chatting and I'm excited to have them try the BBQ place, their meat is so good.  For dinner I'm leaving the guys on their own while I head to Zumba class, so maybe they'll have fish sticks, hot dogs, or corn dogs.   I'm suggesting quick items so afterwards they can go to the open swim at the local high school. 
  • Friday -The nearby town is having their annual summer festival (Waunafest) and I was planning we'd go there for our weekly Me & D night to hit the bouncy house, carnival rides, and the food stands.  I was considering eating dinner there, but food at festivals is usually so unhealthy, so we'll eat at home before we go.  Husband Jeff has been asking for his favorite frozen pizza (Jack's rising crust) which isn't a whole lot healthier, but at least I can try to serve up some fruit and veggies with it.  
  • Saturday - I think I'm going to skip both of my exercise options (Zumba and Core Fusion) and we'll all head to St Dennis Festival (Catholic church) in the morning.  They have a huge rummage sale that I love to browse and Husband Jeff is going to do their 5K fun run.  They also have a bouncy house and old-fashioned kids games, so we'll probably hang out there for a bit.  Then we have a 5-year-old's birthday at a park over lunch and a 50-year-old's birthday later in the afternoon that I might stop by for a while. 
  • Sunday - Once again, our standard morning visit to the farmers' market.  I love it, the produce is really in full swing.  I'm tempted by the people who offer up whole chickens, but I'm still trying to empty out our freezer and our many meals out this week probably won't help that situation.  For dinner, our friends Chuck and John are joining us and we're heading to the Tip Top Tavern, a formerly dark, dingy dive bar that has been transformed into a hip little restaurant.  I've heard great stuff about it and it's been on my list of places to go ever since I heard that it was being overhauled.  I'm excited about their fried pickles, I'm a total sucker for those.  It's mainly a burgers and sandwiches type place, but seems a lot more modern than the average tavern. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of July 14

I'm on another eBay kick, this time planning for our trip to New Orleans next month and my makeup contouring interest.  For our trip I bought a fabulous metallic + purple animal print case with a wrist strap for my iPhone (so I can take pictures without fear of dropping my phone) and Maxell kid headphones for Sonny D (so he can listen on the plane).  I'm also working on finding a case for my iPad so I can haul it on the plane without worrying about smushing it in my bag.

For my current focus on cosmetics/makeup, I bought an Ecotools makeup brush set that comes with a little case and a konjac face cleansing puff (rumored to give amazing results, only cost me $.89 total!).  I was bidding on a second set of makeup brushes because it had additional brushes that I wanted, but someone outbid me and I got frustrated because people always tend to outbid me at the last minute.  How rude!  I ended up finding a 'buy it now' deal for less than the one I was originally bidding on, so I went for it. So ha, the joke's on you, eBay sniper, you're going to end up spending more money than me in your zeal to win the auction. 

Our plans arrived from the landscaping company.   It looks like such a tiny amount of greenery for the amount of money we spent!  Jeff has been totally busting his butt to get the plants in the ground, keeping them properly watered, and setting up the brick edging.  It'll look really great when the plants have truly established themselves. 
New plants set into place in the yard.
I also finally made our hotel reservations for New Orleans, we're going to be staying on Magazine St, a primo shopping avenue on the upriver edge of the French Quarter.  I was originally looking at staying in a vacation rental (condo, house, or apartment) since I love having a full kitchen and living like the locals, but our time there is short so I didn't want to be fussing with and I was really swayed by the hotel's free breakfast plus a fridge/microwave in the room for leftovers and snacks.  I'm continuing to read the couple of travel books for the city, planning out what I want to do while we're there, and making a Google map with all of the places pinned.

I'm still interested to hear everybody's recommendations for New Orleans!  Tell me what you've got to say, I want to hear it!

Saw the Wienermobile on the way to work!
I have to say that it's not really that remarkable to see the Wienermobile here in Madison since Oscar Mayer is two miles from our house. But it still tickles me to see it occasionally! 

If you missed my late Friday afternoon post about dealing with yellow underarm stains, definitely go check it out. I didn't take photos but I did an additional experiment with a green shirt I had been avoiding because of the crusty-looking pit stains.  I scrubbed the solution on Thursday morning and finally washed it four days later on Monday morning and it came out great!  There wasn't any color fading and the pit stains are gone.  Super awesome! 

I also went with my mother-in-law to a cool place called Upshift.   I would consider it a clothing swap shop for college girls -- you give them your bag of clothes, pay $20, and you can take home a bag of their clothes.  We went during a special accessories promo on Sunday afternoon, so we only paid $10 each for bringing in accessories.  I found a cute white skirt, a cute print skirt, and three tops and my mother-in-law picked up a denim jacket and a bright pink jacket.  I noticed that they had a 'mend' pile for the stuff customers bring in, so they definitely take care of the items they receive to ensure you aren't picking through loads of crud.  Although some of the merchandise is not the greatest quality, pretty much akin to what you'd find at Goodwill with really cheap brands from Kohl's or Old Navy with not much usable life in them.  But it's certainly an interesting concept and a neat adventure. 

Menu Plan

It's time to focus on clearing out the upstairs freezer since it's difficult to shut the drawer without multiple tries of arranging everything several times.  Removing something disrupts the precise arrangement and you have to use your amazing Tetris skills to get it all back in correctly.  Plus I haven't been keeping up with my freezer inventory as I bring things home from grocery shopping so I'm discovering things I didn't know we had since they weren't on the inventory. 
  • Monday - eggs, turkey breakfast sausage links, and toast.  This might be as individual items, or we might turn them into breakfast sandwiches.  
  • Tuesday - I was originally going to make a fish curry, but I'm going with a tofu curry with rice, remaking this quick curry recipe from last year but will reduce the amount of spice so Sonny D will hopefully eat it.  I will add the sweet potatoes that are sprouting in our bread basket, green beans from the farmers' market and peas.  The peas are just because they're in the freezer.  I"m heading to Latin hip-hop cardio (Zumba) after dinner.
  •  Wednesday - grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts with homemade pesto with basil from our garden.  Husband Jeff really wants to grill and would prefer bone-in chicken, but this is what we've got in the freezer so I'm going to have him grill these instead.  We'll probably put barbeque sauce on them, he's a fan of local, award-winning Smoky Jon's bbq sauce while I prefer the less-sweet Stubb's bbq sauce (wish it were a little more peppery, but love that it doesn't have high-fructose corn syrup and isn't sweet in general).  Unfortunately I'll be making a big batch of pesto and freezing it, which is going against my goal of using up from our freezer. 
  • Thursday - Husband Jeff's parents are picking up Sonny D from preschool because I'm going to Zumba right after work and Jeff will be away at a baseball game.  No real dinner to make, I'll probably eat whatever leftovers we've got in the fridge. 
  •  Friday - oven-fried fish with polenta, copying this tilapia recipe from Cooking Light but using swai since that's what's in our freezer.  
  • Saturday - During the day Husband Jeff is talking about doing a canoe race, but hasn't signed up yet.  In the afternoon I'm going shopping with the interior designer to pick up decorative items for our home.  Hopefully she has a list of what we're looking for, I'm clueless!  Jeff wanted to grill a lot, so I'm pulling him into duty tonight by having him cook up the beef brats we've got in the freezer.  We'll probably have them with a bag of frozen veggies from the freezer or fresh veggies from our garden.
  • Sunday -  On tap is our standard farmers' market visit in the morning and then in the mid-day there's a pop-up craft market called MadCity Bazaar that I want to check out.  For dinner we're going out with friends to Tempest for the start of the summer restaurant week.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Underarm Stains? They're The Pits!

I love household tips and tricks, I have always appreciated Hints from Heloise. One of the great blogs I read, One Good Thing by Jillee, has loads of awesome household tips and tricks.  One of Jillee's tips I was excited to try was how to get rid of armpit stains, so I figured I would document it to tell you about it and let you know if it worked or not. I had several white shirts in my closet that I was avoiding wearing because they had some yellow armpit stains, so I was certainly ready to give it a shot. I tried this one morning when I had a few extra minutes before I had to leave for work.


One Good Thing how to get rid of armpit stains


In a small plastic container I mixed up 2:1 ratio of hydrogen peroxide to dish soap (2 Tablespoons peroxide, 1 Tablespoon dish soap).  I used Palmolive dish soap since that's what we had even though the recipe called for Dawn.  I accidentally omitted the baking soda because I was in a hurry and forgot.

I pulled all my white shirts out of the closet, a nail brush, and the peroxide-soap mixture and took it all downstairs to the laundry area in the basement.  We don't have a countertop in the basement, so I grabbed a lid for a plastic tote and put it on top of the utility sink as my work surface. 


I dipped the brush in the peroxide-soap mixture, dabbed it on the stained area, and scrubbed as best I could.  It's hard with only a tiny piece of fabric to work with.  I did that for all of my shirts and even a pair of white jeans that still had an unknown grey stain after just coming out of the wash. 

I thought I photographed the same two shirts for my "before" and "after" shots to show my progress, but I don't think this first set matches.  But whatever, it's a good concept so you can see some results.
Pit scrubbings. Might not be the same shirt for the before and after shots.
Click the image for larger view.
For both sets, hopefully you can see a bit of yellow underarm stains in the first picture. There's still a tiny bit of yellow in the "after" shot, but it's a lot less.
Good results.  Not perfect, but much better.
Click the image for a larger view.
For this second set of pictures it's definitely the same shirt since it's the only white one I have with longer sleeves.


I was really happy with the results, it's nice to know I can wear my shirts without having that nagging voice in the back of my head being a little worried about my yellow armpit stains.  I will definitely use this mixture again to see if I can remove a bit more of the stains, and hopefully remember the baking soda in the recipe and see if it helps!

One important reminder is that you need to be gentle, I have some noticeable pilling on some of the shirts.  But whatever, I would probably be more worried about the pit stains rather than a little bit of pilling under the arms.  

A coworker mentioned she had heard of boiling the clothing in vinegar and that it worked for her, so maybe that'll be another experiment.

Oh, and Husband Jeff said he heard the advice to not use bleach on protein stains like this since it makes the stain worse.  A quick search on the internet seems to confirm this, it'll set the stain and darken it, so definitely DON'T USE BLEACH on yellow armpit stains

I hope you get a chance to try this and maybe make some more of your shirts wearable again. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of July 7

Week in Review

On Tuesday evening we were prepping dinner and Sonny D already had some cherries and popcorn at his spot at the table.  He asked "May I start eating?"  Wow, so civil and mannered!  I immediately said "Yes, you may."  And he climbed up and started eating.  He certainly didn't learn that at home, we're not that formal.

Our landscape design. 
Does anybody else think the two trees at the bottom look like breasts?
We received our official landscape design on Tuesday. Jeff started the hot-and-sweaty work of digging up the outline and getting it ready to install a brick edging.  The plants will be coming in the middle of the week. 

We had a really quiet Fourth of July holiday weekend. We didn't see any fireworks, we only heard them as we were going to bed.

I got a ton of mosquito bites. One ignominious one on my forehead!  Try to feel cool at an outdoor dinner party with a huge red welt on your forehead!
We had a few ideas we were tossing around but Sonny D helped us decide to check out a new-to-our-area Fresh Market grocery store.  It seems to be like the little sister version of a place called Mariano's in Chicago (same grocery store family). I love their juice bar, I got the apple-ginger zing juice blend. We tried samples and loved everything. I really appreciate that it wasn't noticeably expensive compared with our regular Copps (same grocery store family as well).  Husband Jeff really loved it, he said he would want to shop there all the time, but it's several miles away and there are at least three other grocery stores that are closer.  But I did really appreciate the variety of ethnic ingredients and of course that juice bar!

I'm Pinterest-crazy right now, more than usual. I'm most interested in the beauty category. I was previously looking at hair styles but since I cut my hair a bit shorter this week, now I'm focusing on facial highlighting and contouring with makeup.  Definitely connect with our account, Husband Jeff and I share an account.  The beauty and interior decorating boards are mine, the DIY, woodworking, and three furniture-building ones are his. 

Peeps love.  The watermelon ones are green on the outside, pink on the inside.
I hosted a Mary Kay party on Saturday afternoon. I haven't been to a Mary Kay party since college (I'm amazed to say how long that's been - 15 years!) and their stuff has definitely changed.  I didn't particularly need anything, but I did buy an eye cream since I wasn't loving the Clinique sample I had and regular lotion isn't moisturizing enough for me. One thing I really appreciated is that she has most of the merchandise in her car, so you don't have to wait for it to be shipped to you. I love that immediate gratification.  

Making faces at each other while waiting for pizza.
I skipped my Saturday morning exercise class to attend what might have been the world's smallest parade as part of our Northside "small town" Fourth of July celebration. The parade consisted of a fire truck, a couple convertibles with people in the back, a few soldiers with flags, a bagpipes-and-drum group, kids with decorated bikes, a mini brass band, and two police cars.  We did end up getting two handfuls of candy, so it wasn't all bad!

Bought Peeps minis in strawberry creme and a Peeps sour watermelon pop. Both Jeff and I completely love peeps!  Can't wait to dig into those..  We prefer Peeps that are hard and stale, but will also still eat them fresh.

We navigated the city bus with the help of Google Maps to go out for pizza at Roman Candle on Sunday.  I had the big Greek salad (not as overwhelmingly huge as described) and the really tasty roasted red pepper and tomato soup.  Sonny D and Husband Jeff had pepperoni pizza ("peckernooni" as Sonny D says) and some breadstick twists.  While we were waiting for the bus to arrive, we heard the worst words a kid could probably say before the once-an-hour bus shows up, "I have to poop!"  He was fine until we made it home, but we were sweating!  Especially since the bus didn't come back up to our neighborhood and we had to walk from the transfer point.   

This Week

  • Monday - Today starts Sonny D's next session of summer "camp" at preschool. I was so excited when I remembered that these three weeks are called countryside cafe, which means the kids will be making their lunches each day, so I have three weeks off from lunch duty!  For dinner we'll have Newman's Own broccoli beef frozen entree with rice, served with massaged kale salad.  
  • Tuesday - a quick meal of banana french toast before I head off to Latin hip-hop cardio class.
  • Wednesday - cheese-stuffed salsa burgers.  I was inspired by the feta-stuffed lamb burgers I made last month. 
  • Thursday - I'm going to Zumba right after work and meeting up with my friend Rachel afterwards to go out for Chinese at Imperial Garden.  Sonny d and Husband Jeff are on their own. 
  • Friday - We're getting together with friends for "pizza in the park". We'll go to either a splash park or a regular playground park and the kids will play while we hang out and chat and we'll have pizza delivered to the park
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning.  It's Art Fair on the Square this weekend so we'll probably head down there after my class ogle at gorgeous stuff we can't afford.   One of the gals who attended my Mary Kay party is hosting her own party in the afternoon and I said I would attend that.  I want to experiment with salmon cakes for dinner if Husband Jeff will let me.
  • Sunday - Northside farmers' market in the morning like usual. Totally loving it that Husband Jeff is addicted to the spring rolls like I am. Maybe we'll have brunch there because it's a fundraiser for the local domestic abuse shelter. In the afternoon is a preschool outing to the Madison Mallards baseball game. We'll eat dinner there,which shouldn't be too hard to find a healthy choice, they've got a surprising selection of food. Yes,the typical burgers, nachos, and hot dogs, but specialty things like a salmon burger, organic veggie burger, bahn mi (Vietnamese) hot dog, freshly made pulled pork, caprese panini sandwich, gluten free bun options, Jamaican jerk BBQ sauce, Koran BBQ sauce, etc.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On My Mind

As we move from June to July, here's what's going on with me right now.  
  • Planning a trip to New Orleans. None of us has been there but it sounded good for a shorter trip somewhere to see how it goes taking Sonny D on an airplane.  I'm looking forward to the food.  I also just love the general planning needed for a vacation, research on where to stay, where to eat, what to see while you're there, etc. Let me know if you have any recommendations at all, we don't know anything about the city.
  • Wanting to try in the kitchen - making shredded pork shoulder in the pressure cooker and caramelized onions in slow cooker.  I've already done these, but I need to write them up for you!
  • Want to make a video to show off my kitchen.  It's nothing fancy, but I love all the little touches Husband Jeff has made for me like the casserole dish stacker, light in the pantry, etc.
  • Looking forward to working with interior designer, we're going shopping together in a couple weeks. I finally got around to taking pictures of our house to document the "before" and then later show the progress. I also cleaned off some areas that were cluttered with too much stuff. Also planning out the banquette Jeff is going to build for the dining room.
  • Just finished reading Patriot Games by Tom Clancy.  I wanted to see if his books were as thrilling as they seemed.  This book was pretty good, but I had seen the movie first so I already knew what was going to happen.
  • Scared of house centipedes still, the little buggers are still hanging out in our house. I saw one the other day before my shower.
  • Trying to connect with friends and hang out this summer.  That might end up with Jeff saying I've over-booked us, but the summer is short and I want to take advantage of it.
  • Good deed - getting rid of all of our unwanted books and putting them in the Little Free Libraries around town.
  • Trying to remember to apply bug spray, the mosquitoes love me!
  • Interested in finding a general babysitter to watch Sonny D occasionally.
  • Planning my next big party, Crocktoberfest.
  • Sweating my butt off at Latin hip-hop cardio a couple times a week. Looking back in my journal I found that I've been going there for a year now.
  • Stores I'm haunting - Aldi and Dollar Tree.  I'm always so excited to point out that the food item we're enjoying came from Aldi or organizing household stuff with bins from the dollar store.   
  • We're considering - getting another dog. Our little Sheltie dog died last May.
  • Totally enjoying the satisfaction from using up things. Use up the last of the perfume and toss the bottle. Finishing up the peanut butter.  Finally finishing the half-empty hand lotion you've had sitting around forever.  And then paring down by not buying a replacement or using this as an opportunity to try something new.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!