Friday, December 18, 2009

My darling

Aislin played a chick in a Christmas pageant with her Preschool class.
Cheep, cheep.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weightlifting Competition

Windy City CrossFit (WCCF), my gym, hosted a Winter Weightlifting Competition organized by fab acrobat, muscle man and badass coach - Will Howard (he does Turkish Getups using people). Way to shine Will - on both counts!

I volunteered to help out the day of the meet, but my girlfriend and fellow Crossfitter, Kim Hanna, put out the call to all of us 'grown-ass women' (which I think is a compliment - but perhaps a euphemism for women over 30?) - and I answered. Being new to Olympic weightlifting (I never heard of the moves until Oct 2009) I didn't win any awards - this time - ;-) but I did move some weight arou
nd. Woohoo, I add weightlifting competitor to my list of achievements!

It was an exciting day! There was every walk of life at this meet. Some of the skinnier women looked like they would break under the weight of their loads. The men were especially fun to watch. They hoisted, hauled and lifted heavy stuff. I got some of them to "clean and jerk" my kids as play. Sweet knuckledraggers! The kids were thrilled to be hoisted in the air like weights! Thanks to Dingo and Doogie for that joyride!
Gentle giants *sigh* Couplla great fellas.

forges elite fitness. We use many Olympic lifts in our workouts of the day. They are whole body lifts that require technique and full-body strength.
Very satisfying movements because it doesn't work just one muscle. It requires all of them!

I'm so proud of everyone who competed (you got to lift or fail while 100 people watched silently - yikes!). My favorite of the day was watching WCCF's own "Doogie" (I have no idea what his real name is). Watch the video and you'll see why (whit guy with a shaved head and Addidas shorts). Awards went to a handful of the WCCF crew. Servia aka "Beef" won the best overall female lifter award. Jen also won for her weight class. Well deserved (those broads are so strong) - Asskickers all!

Enjoy the links to the videos of the competitors I know. I have no idea where else to link them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday cheer in west humboldt park

The 1/2 grade class from Pilgrim Lutheran school visited CPS Pablo
Casals school today celebrating the true meaning of Christmas -
selfless giving. Just as God did when he sent us baby Jesus. It was
fun, rowdy and so sweet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Burn and turn - literally - with photos

Back in my volleyball days the term was "turn and burn" when running
court sprints. Yesterday AM I wished I would have turned before I got
burned - literally.

My espresso maker was clogged and going to blow. I opened up the
steaming wand for a bit and then panicked and opened the top. Was
exposed to highly pressurized, HOT steam for a second at most. But it
got me good.

Ice was the only pain relief. I iced it for 7 hours straight. The pain
subsided, except if you touch it. I'm so thankful. It actually made
me thankful for the free gift of salvation too. Cmon, it's cliche but
we all think Hell is hot. And not in a sexy way.

Sidebar: yesterday it snowed here. It's a good thing because I
literally ran out of ice! Ow! Snow, sweet glorious snow - how I love
thee. Squee!!

Beck. From iPhone.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flank Steak and Edamame

Nothing like a good steak. Flank steak is one of my favorite meals, warm or cold. I don't usually care for leftover meat, but this is great! Great cold or on a salad the next day. If there are any leftovers! It pairs well with red wine or beer.

Flank steak is an extremely lean meat. I marinate my steak overnight in a ziplock bag. If you don't have the time, chef Paula Dean, says that 24 hours of marinating in the fridge = 1 hour marinating at room temp. I've tried it multiple times and it works great! Let it marinate for 1 hour at room temp (non frozen meat). The more time you can let it marinate, the better.

I love eating whole edamame with coarse salt. It's really sexy food! You eat it with your hands and scrape the shell across your bottom teeth to extract the bean. Scraping the coarse salt from the surface of the edamame adds just the right amount of sumthing-sumthing. I love the flavor and texture. Edamame is fun food! My 3 year old daughter even likes! As for it being Paleo - I'm not sure. Technically it is a legume. I think the most pertinent fact of eating paleolithically is that the food was something a caveman would have had access to. I think soybeans are a modern crop. But let's face it, we're in modern times. The real point is to eat real food! I know
I wouldn't eat bugs or other nastiness a starving caveman might have consumed. So I looked up the Glycemic Index of Edamame and it is very low. This is good for keeping blood sugar hence insulin levels in balance. So I deem it Paleo friendly! Cue the music! And don't forget - it's super sexay (yeah, I know, I'm talking about food - I love food).

Wondering what the heck that thing is next to the raw cut of meat? It is not an ancient radius bone or crude pipe. LOL. It's fresh horseradish. I experimented by adding some fresh Horseradish to the meat marinade to give it a spicy kick. I tasted the marinade before using, and it was spicy! I was excited to see how it would work! The grilled meat did not taste spicy or horseradish-y at all. In fact I think it lent a sweeter taste to the marinade. So skip it. It's kinda of an exotic ingredient anyway (hard to find).

Most important thing, enjoy cooking, enjoy eating and live well!

Flank Steak Marinade

1/3 C. Olive oil
3 TBL White vinegar
3 TBL Lemon Juice (bottled stuff is OK)
3 TBL Soy Sauce
2 TBL Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 TBL fresh Parsley (or 2 tsp dried)
1 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
2 tsp dry mustard (don't skip this)
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a mixing cup. Put meat in ziplock bag and pour marinade over meat. Distribute around meat. Marinate 24 hours in fridge or 1 hour at room temp.

Sear on grill on both sides - 3 minutes. Cook on low-med heat until done (7-10 min). Take off heat at 140 degrees (130 if you want RARE). Let REST for 5 minutes. Cut meat as thin as possible at a 45 degree angle (see photo). ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Good Reasons to Eat In - Paleo inspired!

Eating in is so much more easy than going out and more affordable and tasty. Here are two good reasons:

I made pot roast again. It was a precooked one for $11 from Costco. Morton's of Omaha, USDA Choice! It is really fabulous. It comes in a plastic bag and you heat it up by boiling it in hot water or the microwave. So while I was boiling...;-) I chopped up some fresh beets and carrots. I tossed them generously in Garlic infused olive oil, kosher salt, Italian seasoning and lots of cracked black pepper. 425 degrees for 30 minutes and you are good to go. So delicious!

A friend of mine told me today that fresh beets and goat cheese were made for each other. In tasting the raw root veges I got inspired with a raw vegetable/salad idea. I'll be making it as soon as I get more fresh beets! They taste like earth! Stay tuned for more healthy paleo-inspired eats!

One of my all time favs is below. It consists of beef tenderloin, salt pepper, sweet potato and heat. Oh and some good Pinot Noir. Not too shabby for a Monday night dinner. The plate looks unfinished and meager without a salad but this post is about the food, not the photo of the food!

I bought the peeled beef tenderloin from Costco and it's great! I cut 10 substantial steaks from the $50 piece of meat. I've used their unpeeled ($4/lb less expensive) tenderloin and you truly lose a lot of meat skinning the sinew, fat and connective tissue off of it. So I was happy that they sell a tenderloin ready to cut into steaks or cook in one piece. I highly recommend it. It's an easy, fancy, delicious paleo meal. Throw the left over steak on a salad the next day. Or make an extra steak specifically for that reason!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sausage Pumpkin Soup - Paleo Style

With Thanksgiving arriving next week, I thought I'd share a wonderful soup recipe designed for paleo-eaters out there. It's not strict paleo in that there is more animal fat involved than usual. This soup can be made and stored in the fridge for up to a week. Experiment with the spiciness. Be careful not to make it too bright by adding more ginger than needed. You can omit it altogether if you don't care for the taste. You'll find it has plenty of stick-to-your-ribs heartiness. Heat up the soup and pour into a to-go cup for a wonderful AM breakfast while you commute to work or run the kids to school.

You can use any breakfast sausage you like - pork, turkey, chicken, etc. I like the pork variety. I've used Jimmy Dean brand and Aldi, Puritan's Pride- Sage brand. (Sage is the spice that makes turkey stuffing taste like stuffing). Use can use fresh spices in the soup also. But take note that it will change the coloring. You'll have a brown/green soup. If you're cool with that go for it and add a 50% more fresh spices than dried amounts.

Sausage Pumpkin Soup

1 16oz package of breakfast sausage (not cased, the kind packed in a plastic tube)
1 15 oz can of solid pack pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin pie mix)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. of coconut milk
1 large onion - chopped
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp paprika (use spicy if you have it)
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste
Olive oil
Pat of butter

  • In a large sauce pot heat olive oil and sautee onions until translucent. Remove to a bowl.
  • In same pot, add sausage and cook until browned.
  • Add all the spices
  • Return onions to pot along with the can of pumpkin and stir well
  • Add 4 cups of chicken broth and stir well
  • Get a handheld blender and puree the entire soup. You can use the blender. Be careful not to seal the blender cap firmly. The hot air will make it explode and make a big mess. If using a blender, return soup to pot when done with puree
  • Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk (I used light from Trader Joes)
  • Add a pat of butter and mix in with a spoon. This will make more velvety.
  • Taste and add black pepper.

Serve or store. Allow to cool before you place in the fridge.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Failed Paleo pancakes

How hard could it be? Pancakes are pancakes, right? Sure but not all
flours are created equally. But my failure is your success.

I used coconut flour, which is gluten-free. It absorbs liquid quite
egregiously. I added a 1/3 cup! I had thick paste. I thinned it out
with water and liquid egg white. After many instances of watering it
down and cooking I made the "big pancake". Looks good but is a bit
eggy. I'll add 100 percent maple syrup and I'm sure it will be fine.
I'm eating it regardless- coconut flour is expensive and hard to
find! Here's my new coconut flour pancake recipe

2 eggs
1/4 c milk or cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbl coconut flour (yes not much)

Mix wet ingredients into dry
Cook in skillet on med heat

If you have any recipes using coconut flour that are worth making send
it over!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tis the Season for a heart attack

It's here, Christmas Season. What? You think I'm on crack because it's only early November? Before you raise an eyebrow, look around. Everywhere is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. From the red Starbucks cups to the clearance Halloween candy at Target surrounded by full priced Christmas candy. Same stuff, different package. It was at Costco too. When you walk into the store, this is what you see...There are fresh pine wreaths for sale too. Makes the place smell like a christmas tree.

I like Christmas. I like that a Savior was born and that his birth is celebrated. However, how quickly we lose sight of that come Dec 25. Bah humbug, right?

I don't know about any of y'all but I get anxious around Christmas time. I immediately felt anxious the moment I stepped into Costo or walked past the Target Christmas ornaments end cap. For some odd reason my wiring got mucked up. I think of all the gifts I have to buy for strangers. To tell them how much I appreciate them or how to show that I am respected. All this without even knowing if they celebrate Christmas. It seems Christmas is a show your appreciation holiday. That's whacked. It's not about that. It's not even about a decorated tree. But I do like the tree.

I will try to get all of my shopping done very early this year so I am not guilted by advertising to buy things for people I don't know and who may not care. oh, and if you're wondering I like Whiskey and good red wine ;-)

if you need a fun gift for someone else, get this! I have a different model and it's good for producing mood altering Vitamin D! (so they say). Cheers.

the Happy light!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Paleo Food

I've been very busy as of late.

During Halloween trick-or-treating I forgot my phone and have limited photos. I also forgot
my phone when I went to Lincoln Park Zoo with Aislin's preschool class -- in the rain (another rainy, outdoor field trip). It was warm however and we had fun! There are some weird looking monkeys out there in the world. And I'm not just talking about my ex boyfriends and brother. Nyuck, nyuck.

So when did I have my camera or phone to take pics? Well, home of course. Doing one thing I love to do: cook! Lately it's been
Paleo meals (short for Paleolithic). Essentially it's eating stuff a caveman or woman would have eaten. I've added heat, sanitation and tons of seasonings. I'm doing it to try it. I'm not a diet nut. But I know my energy dips in the late afternoon. Since I can't get MORE sleep (not really), I've decided to give Paleo a go. The jist is that it will level off your blood insulin level. Keep it from spiking and keep your body from thinking you are hungry (need energy) when really it's just reacting to the bagel you've had for breakfast. No white sugar. No refined grains (not even whole ones). Berries, nuts, lean meats, fat and healthy oils, tons of veges and some fruit. Red wine, coconut flour, coconut, Of course I eat a cupcake when I want it. And I do. It's been about 4 weeks. And I have to say that my energy is solid all day! When I eat refined sugar (cookies, some bread product) I feel different, bad different. I get a headache and my energy is all over the place. My appetite is unruly and unpredictable at these times too. I don't think of it as restricting carbs, but essentially you are. I'm just laid back about. Meaning if I want or need carbs, I'll eat. I'll keep doing this because it's fun and Winter is upon us. I've also lost about 8 lbs. But there was some intermittent fasting in there (intentionally) followed by some hard CrossFit before I had another meal (not a punishment, a plan).

I love eating meat and definitely enjoy fats and veges. C'mon a steak with sauteed asparagus with a giant salad with blue cheese and fixings. Awesome.
It isn't cheap however. Especially if you get grass fed beef. I got meat from Whole fFods (spent an extra $4/lb) and wasn't sure it was grass-fed. Organic, but may have been grain fed. I'm not a big meat snob, but the logic is sound all the way down to the seed: you are what you eat. So why would I modify my diet and then eat beef from cows who eat refined grains? Sigh. The organic meat DID taste better, I'll have to say. But I cannot afford my own good taste. Beef isn't the first example of this.

Whatever! I went to Aldi and the Mexican market (Cermak produce) and got chicken legs, chicken thighs, and top round beef. They taste good too and I can make suppers for under $5 each. C'mon people, price matters.

My sister lives in Nebraska, beef country. Sal - if you read this, you know what I want for Christmas. Some good grass-fed steaks, girl! Bring it! I'll make the mashed cauliflower! And then we can splurge and get a Dinkel's cupcake (STILL my fav).

Yes, yes, I know all - eek I'll remember to bring my camera next time I do something interesting. All this talk about food!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Becky Mae Poppy Fields Necklace and Earring Set GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Becky Mae Poppy Fields Necklace and Earring Set GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

119 pound pumpkin

I LOVE giant pumpkins! And I hope to pass on this simple pleasure to
my kids! They enjoyed a special visit to our local Trader Joes (I
love that store)

The girls were delighted. Indi guessed the pumpkin to be 100 lbs. We
were gleeful to learn it was 119. So close Indigo. Maybe next year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Funky clouds

6pm over Chicago. Inverted cumulus clouds!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Paleo dinner

A rainy thursday. On the menu is marinated chicken thigh cooked on the
grill. Coupled with a mix of grilled veges with a butter balsalmic
reduction sauce and misc spices

Good eats!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finished shepherds pie

Paleo eats

This Shepherd's pie gets topped with mashed parsnips. They are a tad
sweet for my fancy but have good texture.

I riches up the flavor of the pie with tomato paste, bacon grease and
Worchrstshire sauce. Will freeze these large ramekins for future

More paleo cooking to come. A new fav is using shredded cabbage as a
bed for pulled pork or stir fry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Busy October

The Facebook project to scare away all of it's users is working. I haven't been able to get into my FB account all weekend. Now I have to blog the old fashioned way... make a real post. What's next? Actually talking to a human face to face?

It's been a busy month folks. The weather has been very cold and wet in Chicago. An abysmal combination. What nice is that autumn is now upon us. The streets are lined with trees whose leaves glisten gold and brilliant. Halloween is next week and we sure have been busy around here wearing costumes, attending bday parties and enjoying our dear friends and family.

The girls and I took a road trip to see my sister in Baraboo, WI. It was a fun time in the car. The girls think they have cart blanche to eat at fast food places. This trip was only 3 hours each way, so there were only pit stops. The weather in Baraboo was frigid. We did not bring enough warm clothes to enjoy the brisk 25 degrees. My 17 year old niece loaned the girls her mittens and scarves. Between that and running around on the inflatables at the Baraboo Fair in the Square, the girls kept warm. We abruptly departed Baraboo when my niece was smoking pot wit her friends in her room. Not a safe place for little kids.

We were treated last weekend when my dear friends The Engstroms (my sista Roxanne) returned home to Chicago after living in Zanzibar, Africa for the last year and a half. Roxanne is my sister from another mutha. She is a great woman and friend. She is 8 months pregnant and has had quite a rough time with this second child incubation. She has been vomiting non stop. She has returned to the States to have this little one and plans to return to Z-bar 6 weeks after birth. She has had a rough go of it and deserves recognition as Trooper of the Century!

A few thoughts on pregnancy. Pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, appears to be a seemingly passive process. I assure you all it is not. There may be a few woman who don't get morning sickness or gain very little weight and are able to lose it quickly after birth. But for the majority of the women I know, pregnancy is a long hard road with no relief other than birth. The nausea, bloating, vomiting and other personal maladies are silent but so dreadful. If you see a preggo woman, hold the door for her, don't allow her to bend over for anything. Especially if she has another kid. Help her with her groceries, and smile wide and genuinely. You will make her day.

We hit a few bday parties. I helped Emily finish off Mile's Halloween Costume as Super Why. She made the entire costume. I made the chest logo. I love stuff like that and kids love the real deal. They are special and if we can help them feel that way too... bring it on! Aislin dressed as a "muscle man". A costume from Gymboree's line. She rocked it!

We visited Roxanne in lake Geneva, Wi yesterday. A quick road trip. The girls played with Anni and Rox caught me up on her work in Z-bar and life there. I know I couldn't do it. So snaps to her and Jason and Anni for all their work and building the computer lab and tech school. More work is to be done. I have to say that I have missed Roxanne immensely. She is genuine, honest, vulnerable, and plain ol fun to be around. She is an original. And she's gorgeous.

Last night I had so much fun hanging out with The Cha's. Bogie and Beth and their kids were at Village Creek Bible Camp with the girls and I this summer. Bogie is Korea and took a gaggle of us out to show us how to do Korean BBQ. It was a smokey affair but delicious! Afterwards we had dessert in Korea Town (Bryn Mawr and Kedzie). The group split up but Beth and night burned the wee hours of the night and went to the Michael Heaton concert! She is a hoot and a holla! I love Michael Heaton's music. He does great covers too. But his original stuff is sheer joy to absorb and enjoy. Mike is a great performer and is good at remembering people's names. Especially mine. He says hello to me from the stage. I feel a little awkward, but hey, what girl doesn't like to stand out in a crowd? I take it where I can get it. Check out his music. You won't be disappointed.

Now, Beth... she is a true sista. We were at Fado's Irish bar. No cover, which was the impetus for us actually schlepping to Clark and Grand (downtown) to see my fav Mike Heaton. We got ROCKSTAR parking for free on the street, just steps from the venue. I had a small flask of Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey in my coat pocket (it was sealed and intended for something else). After buying the first round of drinks for Beth and I (mere wine and a whiskey) I was out $20. But I had that bottle in my pocket! I found us seats in the very front of the house at a huge table. My drink was out and I was hesitant to crack open that Maker's Mark. It was a seriously Irish bar. Those bouncers would catch me and happily punch me in the face. Beth asked what I was fumbling with and I told her my sitch. She laughed and said "i'll help you". She held the glass, I poured. Viola. Free hooch compliments of my pocket an the steady hand of a friend, under the table to catch it. LOL. We sound like badasses, don't we? I'll let you decide.

In the meantime, don't underestimate the coolness of two hot blonde-mammas on a night out. Or Michael Heaton's awesome song writing. Cheers all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Doings

I have become a complete blog slacker. I'm to the point where Facebook is my new blog. Although I appreciate the personal camaraderie of having a blog and hearing comments here. So I'm making an effort. I'm averaging one post per month; it could be worse. I also feel I need to post pics every time to entertain those you who, are like me, and appreciate visuals.

It's been a crazy month. My kids have started school, I started a new babysitting job, joined CrossFit, have an upcoming painting show and have been working toward getting myself financially independent. A tall order in this economy. Shamelessly, if any of you know of any open positions for someone with a degree in Marketing and experience in IT management and Construction. I'm also a plein air painter. But I already know how that pays (when it does).

Being a scrapper, I took on a job minding two little kids on MWF. Ella 4.5 months and Erik, her brother who is 2. It has been a lot of hard work but also a blessing. I cherish the moments I have with my own kids (Indi, 6 and Aislin 3). We are riding our bikes to school and locking up there. We walk, Indi rides the scooter, etc. It's true bliss for the kids. Erik and Ella arrive early enough that we all walk in the stroller to school and back We do this- three times a day. It's really a neat thing. When Ais is not in school, having Erik around makes her much more compliant to do some fun things: color, read books together, chalk, cook, etc. She loves TV and gets to watch it but it's a battle when I say no to TV. Ah, such fine parenting.

Erik LOVES Aislin and LOVES the preschool room. I have to nearly drag him out of there every time. The mother's heart in me wishes he could stay and learn too! But not until next year. And that's up to his parents. It reinforces to me what a gem Pilgrim Lutheran is to our community and to my life specifically. Thank you Lord for provision! It's not without it's kinks tho. I have to pay to send the kids there and with both there now it's quite pricey. I've taken on a cleaning job in addition to babysitting to meet his financial goal each month. OH and to help pay for CrossFit.

Windy City Crossfit (that's not me in the photo, but it could be)

Crossfit is quick, intense exercises. Olympic lifts and kick-your-butt hard work. It's not misery tho. It's challenging and fun. I've had personal training and frankly, the workouts were challenging but boring as all get out. Sheer drudgery. At Crossfit you do these crazy lifts I've never heard of: power hang cleans, push jerks, sumo deadlift high pulls. All brutal. You use every muscle to get that weight lifted. They are power moves. There is NO way you are going to move the weight unless you put some umff into it. After 20 box jumps, the last thing you want to do is lift something heavy. But this makes one stronger. A LOT stronger. I am stronger already after 2 weeks. Crossfit is also a coaching environment. There are coaches who lead the classes and help correct your form. They also encourage you to get that weight up and finish!

For those of you who remember Hank Magieria. I think these are some exercises he taught my old friends: Tony K, Rich Schiller, Bill G, and Doug - to name a few. I always remember those guys hanging out in Hank's basement. Hank is a former Olympic lifter. Now I get it. Wish I had paid more attention. It was a lot cheaper back then! They showed me pull ups and bench press when I was a young teen. I've never forgotten. Thanks for not being stuck up guys!

Back to Crossfit. Yesterday's workout was called "Nasty" and it is aptly named. It was 3 ROUNDS for time of 50 squats, 21 ring dips (yes, on rings), 21 kipping pull ups and 10 hang power cleans (weighted). Phew. It took 15 minutes but oh boy what an intense 15. And 3 rounds is just enough where you push it on the last round. If you puke it's ok. You're heart is pounding and you can take breaks but you want to push. You get to grunt out loud and grimace. You get to throw the heavy weighted bar down. No graceful let down. Get off me you heavy bar, you suck! You want to be stronger. I love it so far. I've been sore in places I've never been sore (traps, lats). There is every walk of life there. It's a garage gym. It's expensive but worth every penny so far. A great next step for my fitness-oriented goals. I am a crossfit evangelist. I think every Crossfitter is. Now I know why. You can get a free training session by contacting them. They are happy to show you around. And it turns out the owner of Windy City Crossfit is Justin Marcis, my new neighbor. A really sweet man. The kids wave and say hello. He reciprocates. Hey anyone who does that is good by me. I've got great neighbors. They are all like that.

Edgewater Historical Society (horray my painting is on the postcard! Squint)

Every year, in conjunction with the Andersonville Arts Weekend, my posse, The Plein Air Painters of Chicago show painted plein air (completed outside on easels) works at the Edgewater Historical Society. I have one painting in the show and hope to finish up one more. I love this show. Andersonville Arts Weekend is awesome! The local businesses display works of art for sale (including my church, First EV Free). We plein air painters will be spotted all around the neighborhood painting at our easels on Sat. Oct. 3 from 8-Noon. Look for us. Talk to us. Feel free to marvel. But painting does take concentration so we will only briefly speak to you. We need to get back to work problem solving! Oh, and of course, be kind. Painting requires huge concentration and thought, believe it or not. Well, good painting anyway.

Everyone is cordially invited to a reception with the artists on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 at the Edgewater Historical Society. Gratis wine and appetizers will be served, of course! Look for me. I'd love to see you! It's a neat way to "see" the Edgewater neighborhood. Bring a date and troll around, talk, breath in the autum air. Experience Andersonville thru original paintings and then take a walking tour. Slip some wine in your thermos or empty gatorade bottle. Bliss. And all for free! So now that I got you a second date; spend that saved money on a painting! LOL.

More adventure-telling forthcoming. Adventurously yours.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bowling and Bon Jovi

For you rock band buffs, and kids of the 80s, you'll appreciate this

Recorded using my iPhone. My favorite part is hearing the bowling
pins clatter and fall in the background. Wait for it... So sweet and

Shout out to Nicole Foster for being my partner in crime on this one.
She's dangerous on the dancefloor too!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Guns and Butter - Literally

The economic concept of guns and butter: models the relationship between a nation's investment in defense and civilian goods. In this model, a nation has to choose between two options when spending its finite resources. It can buy either guns (invest in defense/military) or butter (invest in production of goods), or a combination of both. This can be seen as an analogy for choices between defense and civilian spending in more complex economies. A thinking woman's photo op! Yes, that's a .45 on my hip and a AR15 in my hands. I am also packing a .9mm and something else (can't remember, military issue)

Since I was a young girl, my brother-in-law, Scott, taught me how to use guns. He lives in Wisconsin, far from my Chicago dwelling. Recently I visited my sister, Cindy, Scott, and their family. Scott showed me just a few of items from his latest gun collection. My sister and I couldn't resist the photo opp. Photos are in chronological order. No alcohol was being consumed during this evening, but you wouldn't know it from the photo spread. I'll let you in on a little secret. Cindy thought it'd be fun to take gun photos in my black bra. and bayonette rifle~! But those are not included in this blog post. In person it was a hoot. My crazy sister!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guns & Butter

My bro in law shows me some of his treasures. My sister, Cindy, and I
had fun with it

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A few days in New Orleans

Thurs 8/6- I comfortably arrive to the muggiest place in the USA. My
sweat glands were sweating. I check into the ritz Carlton - elated
and impressed and seek out a toenail polish change. My last job got
smeared working out - grr. Nothin makes a girl feel cheaper than ugly
toes. Feet shod with class I head for happy hour in the fancy hotel
lounge and restaurant - the Melange. Enjoyed a wonderful meal of
redfish and lobster risotto. As well as the bars personally invented
cocktails. Blueberry and Basil muddled w sugar in vodka. Delicious!
Hit "the Library" for a cigar. Got a wondeful recommebdation on a
lovely cigar. Which I smoked, in it's entirety, in the humid inner
courtyard at the Ritz. One really need never leave the place. They
have everything. I has a few older gentleman smokers join me. I was
the only one out there except a few couples intwined in their own
conversations. Film and video convention in town. Lots of polos and
khakis. I was in tattered jeans and a tank top. It screamed rock n
roll. And as we all know, rock n roll is for the young. So I had that
going for me

Fri 8/7 - tried to sleep in but my heart was pounding inside my chest.
It was a cacophony blaring. I hydrated and tried to brush the tobacco
cotton mouth ling my mouth -- to no avail. Got dressed, made hotel
coffee and headed out to explore the big easy!

It was hot. I was dripping sweat within minutes. Pouring. I walked
down the main drag and headed to the grand Mississippi! The river
itself is impressive. Churning barges bustled up and down the
rivetway. It's a true causeway. Had biengets and coffee at the in
famous Cafe Dumond. It was packed. The service was slow. The servers
were exclusively Asian or old women. They patiently waited in line to
get my coffee and fried dough. Onto a 2 hour steamboat ride aboard the
Natchez. Hit Flea market and lower French quarter. Scooped up
interesting gifts for the kids then made my way back to the Ritz using
the riverfront cable car. Checked out Saks, made a potty stop then my
melted self made it back to homebase. Phew! This heat takes a lot
outta you.

Refreshed, made up and ready to go I headed to Frenchman for sushi.
Finally out of the hustle and bustle of downtown! The housing is
tight. Homes are old, old and have gorgeous functional gas lights
burning. It is very charming. Street very quiet. I walked the 1.5
miles back to the hotel and crashed

Sat 8/8

Checkout at noon. I sleep and languish in bed til 10. Hit ihopr at
noon for awesome breakfast. Hopped St Charles cable car to Garden
District. There is a crazy Red Dress race going on it's really a
stroll. Women and men are all wearing red dresses Nd drinking alcohol.
It's hilarious. The race route bisects our path so I've been sitting
here for about 30 min - blogging. Time to get out and walk

Oh yeah. I walked Bourbon and Royal streets. They suck!!! Bourbon is
all strip clubs. It backs up to Royal which is all antiques. I hated
it. Cramped old. Smell of urine and with the looming premonition of a
foreboding con. But I saw it. Now onto the arts. Airport and
alligator claws for the kids

Still gave lots more to see. Such a unique place.

Beck. From iPhone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Urban Adventure

We took our bikes on the L. Indi took her 2-wheeler and I had Ais in a
seat on my bike. We transferred at Belmont to Red Line on our way to
Wendella - Mag mile and Chi river. We made it w time to spare. A huge
thanks to the indie looking young man who carried my mommy bike all
the way up the subway stairs to daylight. I had indi's and indi was a
good big sis and held Ais's hand

Girls got bored w the 1hr boatride after 30 mins. Pretty good! So
explored the boat and hit the potty at least 4 times. Their fav piece
of architecture on the tour? Navy pier and the bridge houses!

Carefully navigated our way Dow Mag mile to Millenium Park. Tourists!

Had lunch on towels after waiting in potty line again (notice a theme?)
Then off to splash with a zillion other squeling-with-delight kids in
the spitting fountains. So far no pervs, drunks or weirdos. Just
those pesky environmental volunteers asking if I gave 2 mins (and $10)
to save the environment. Grr

I'm taking the 145 x bus on our return. Won't have to worry about the
bikes too much- just load them up front. Trying to get all I can out
of everything they are taxing in Chicago these days. I wouldn't be
surprised if they passed a pollution tax-- farting equals fine.

Look for picks on my facebook now.

Beck. From iPhone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Junkies and Songs and Lessons in Perspective

Living in the city has it's benefits and drawbacks. A benefit and drawback all in one is the close proximity of, well, everything. Sunday was a warm day -I woke up hot and stifled from blazing humidity.

It was a nice day but too hot to be in a church sanctuary. I dropped the kids off at Sunday School and headed across the street for a pick-me-up at Starbucks: my double skim latte. Sweet wakefulness in a paper cup!

Walking back toward church I noticed that Starbuck's outdoor patio was pretty empty as was the one of the restaurant next to it. One thing that is awesome about our church NOT having an air conditioned sanctuary is that they have all the windows open. This means that the community song of the worship service floats and wanders all over the streets of Chicago. I love this effect. I encourage you all to take a break from the sanctuary during worship and have a seat at Starbuck's outdoor cafe. And Listen. Smell the air, view the sites, drink a fav beverage.

While sitting with my cup-of-ambition, I pulled out my sketch pad (which I carry with me everywhere). I drew the parking meter right in front of me, a portion of the patio umbrella. Boring! But good exercise. Then I started working on perspective practice and sketched out the street scene.

While sketching out the street scene I noticed a man coming out of the alley and around to the side of an adjacent apartment building. The man was rail thin, wore a scarf around his head, Lynard-Skynard style, and had tiny red dots all over his arms. This was all from a small distance so the detail wasn't crystal clear. Having been outdoors painting the entire weekend, I thought they could be mosquito bites. I'm such an optimist. Then the city chick in me kicked in and I realized, they had to be track marks. In a rather lovely, but not obnoxious sing-songy voice he was calling up to someone's apartment window. Kind of waking them up (this was about 10:30am - time for the morning hit). He wasn't scarey or loud. He was rather pleasant. Hey, manipulation 101 (or marketing 101, you choose, hehe)

Literally on one side of the street there is a church service in progress. People praising Jesus, quite beautifully, in song. Across the street, is another song being sung.; a junkie waking up a drug dealer. Interesting cosmic perspective to think that maybe (not all people) are singing for the same reasons. To connect with something that makes them feel good. I , personally, think worship songs are praise to God. But I KNOW that people take refuge in singing them. A comfort for weary hearts. It's the intent that matters, right?

Across the alley, on the junkie's side, is a woman, skipping church, drawing and sipping coffee. On the junkie's side of the road. Where was my song? Regardless, I like to think that the church music influenced the "wake up style" of the skinny man. We'll never know. Or perhaps we will... maybe he'll walk into church for Coffee Connection and I'll show him my sketch.

BTW - I'm not very good at drawing people, but I want to be. It's been said, "if you can draw a person, you can draw anything". So I'm working it. Need to get to classes too. I'll get there someday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Busy, dreary week in Chicago

It's been quite an eventful week for the Anstee girls. Being the last week of school for Indigo, there have been many year-end festivities and outings. Saturday, during our neighborhood garage sale, Indi and Ais were invited to a classmate's bday party. There was a trampoline, real pony rides, and even beer for the adults. What a blast. Indigo thoroughly enjoyed the pony rides and was enamored with the ponies and their cute little names (Cinnamon, Snowball...)

Indigo's Kindergarten class continued their annual trip to Foster Beach. It was cold and rainy. It was a misty day at the beach. The only thing missing was the brine. Our hair still got tangled in knots.

There was a break in the misty, rainy weather when the sun came out momentarily. Indi made the most of it by filling in the outline I made of her on the sidewalk. No crime scene here. Notice how she colored in exactly what she was wearing at the time! Great job Inda!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Fun

I've mentioned many times in this blog that I love Winter and snow! This is very true. But now that Summer is here, I love it too. Is that so wrong? I love all the seasons. Although dreary with no rain is pretty depressing and unenjoyable for me.

I live in the middle of Chicago, Il. I am an urban dweller. My property lot is 25 ft wide by 125 long. All that claims a house, backyard and garage. Not a lot of room to expand and enjoy. I have been told by many people with HUGE city houses "wow, you have a backyard". I don't have a McMansion hogging the lot.

Many, many years ago when my backyard was nothing but a bunch of grass I decided to try my hand at gardening. It gets a lot of sun back there so I was a bit worried. The first couple years I used the wrong plants or did something incorrectly, because the lot of the plants got scorched. I learned. I planted hearty perennials (lavender, sage, sedum, black eyed susans, day lillies, dianthus). And lo and behold the landscape theory of sleep-creep- LEAP took hold. As my back yard gardened bloomed, blossomed and grew, so did my sweet little girls: Indigo and Aislin. Soon to be ages 6 and 3 respectively.

Being early June, the garden is taking shape. You can see some of it in the photos of Indigo eating smores on her swingset. I'm glad 1) my kid loves to make smores and be outside (usually) 2) I'm not too uppity to keep the swingset and kid toys in my awesome garden.

More pics as thing bloom. Raspberries and strawberries come next. Then day lillies. Hopefully by early July it will all be in harmony together!