Eat More Pig

Day 30

Does anyone else have a ton of leftover ham from Easter? I ordered a small spiral ham on my last Wal-Mart pick up order, but they were out of the one I requested and gave me a much larger one. Ordinarily that would be ok – we would have more than 3 people eating and I’d be able to send leftovers home with whomever was over.  However, that was not the case this year. We have SO much ham leftover, we will never eat it in its original form.  

We don’t like ham and beans or ham salad, so I was searching for something to use the ham to make – other than sandwiches. Here’s what I came up with:

Slow Cooker Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder:

  • 6 – 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces diced ham
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups half and half

Place potatoes, corn, chicken broth, ham, onions and salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. After cooking, mash potatoes to desired consistency. Add butter and half and half. Turn up the slow cooker to HIGH and cook for an additional 30 – 60 minutes.


Arden, of course, would not try it, but Terry had two bowls and I think it will reheat nicely for the next few days.  I had everything (except the half and half) in my pantry – so it was a good option to use up a good portion of the ham. We still have quite a bit of leftover ham – but at least some of it was put to another use.

I wish I had some corn bread to go with it, but I forgot to grab a box when I went to get the half and half.  Oh well – still a tasty dinner on a way too cool night (for spring).

Other than that, not much to report on this last day of spring break. We were quite lazy. Tomorrow we are back to the grind of school. Arden can’t quite decide if she wants school to resume or if she wants it to be out for the year.

I know which I would pick!

She asks every day if the Governor has announced if he is going to allow the schools to reopen. He has not – at least not that I’ve heard. I agree with her, in that I wish they would just announce it one way or another. It is hard not knowing. It is hard not to have a way to plan, even if the plan is just that we are here for the remainder of the school year. It would be nice to know if the end of the school years is what was scheduled or something different. It would just be nice to have any definitive information! 

I will say, that as hard as it is for Arden to be alone so much of the time, I am particularly thankful that I don’t have multiple children to keep entertained and on task for school at home.  I am quite confident I would be ready to be fitted for a straight jack! I don’t know how parents of multiple children are doing it. Especially if one parent is at work or trying to work while the other is primarily responsible for the child care/schooling!  

Like I’ve asked before, Are we there yet?!?!?!?!?

News of the Day:

Nearly 2 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 123,000 people have died.

The United States has had over 592,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 25,000 deaths, leading the world in both numbers.

President Trump lashed out at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after Cuomo dismissed Trump’s assertion that the president has “total” authority to reopen state economies.

Trump used Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing to berate reporters who challenged his assertion that “everything we did was right.”

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments by telephone beginning next month.

Plan for the Day: I started re-watching The Good Wife. So that will keep me busy for awhile. 

See you tomorrow!


What Now

Day 14

I don’t have much to say today, other than that the level of frustration I feel over the inability to have any clear path towards when this will all be over is at max capacity.  I understand that control is an illusion, but I like my illusions.

I took a few hours today to make our plans for e-learning this week. That was also an exercise in frustration, because we had a certain pattern to our days that is going to change this week. When schools initially shut down, we were given 2 weeks worth of work to keep us on track for the year and also insure we didn’t have to extend the school year into the summer when we went back.  Now that those two weeks are over and this looks like it will extend at least another 2 weeks (and let’s face it – probably longer) the school district is working on a more robust and connected curriculum for the students. I think that is great. I just hate change. This entire process is just one mess of changes – for the kids, for the parents, for the teachers, for the school district. It is just a lot. Added to all that, I have had problems getting logged into most of the applications that are going to be needed; so I spent a lot of time emailing back and forth with Arden’s teacher to get that all set up.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m feeling overwhelmed.  And I feel guilty about feeling overwhelmed because there are people sick and dying; and healthcare professionals and first responders risking their lives. People are losing their jobs and wondering where their next meal will come from.  So in the scheme of things, me having to figure out how to teach multiples and factors isn’t really that big of a deal. But I’ve said I will be honest here – and the honest truth is I’m overwhelmed. 

I spent a lot of time this afternoon in the kitchen and made a new recipe that Arden enjoyed and asked for more!  That was a major victory.  Here is the recipe if you are interested.

Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta with Mushrooms and Peas

  • Author: Bri McKoy


  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 5 oz shiitake or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 14 oz Italian Sausage (or breakfast sausage) 
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 16 oz Orecchiette pasta or pasta of choice (we used farfella) 

Topping (Optional – we didn’t do this):

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/2 cup bread or panko crumbs
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme 


  1. In a sauté pan over medium high heat, add the butter and oil. Once butter is melted add the mushrooms. Cook until browned about 2 minutes on each side.
  2. Add the shallot and cook for another minute. Add garlic and salt and sauté for an additional minute. Add the sausage and crumble while it cooks. Sauté for 8 minutes, until browned. 
  3. Slowly pour in the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrap up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Add mascarpone cheese. Stir to combine. 
  5. Add chicken stock, heavy cream and peas.
  6. Remove from heat and add freshly cracked black pepper and the parmesan cheese. Stir.
  7. Serve over pasta and top with bread crumbs. 

For breadcrumbs:

  1. In a small sauté pan over medium high heat add butter. Add panko or bread crumbs. Sauté until browned, about 2 minutes. Toss in fresh thyme. Use to top pasta.

New of the Day

Global COVID19 cases are 716,101 with 33,854 deaths. US total cases are 136,106 with 2,391 deaths.

President Trump extends social distancing guidelines until April 30th.

Country singer Joe Diffie died from complications from COVID19 

Plan for the Day:

The day is nearly over. I did get 3 days of lesson plans completed and a yummy dinner made. The rest of the evening will likely be pretty lazy, and that’s ok.

See you tomorrow!


Somewhere Beyond the Sea

Day 9

I spiralled down a rabbit hole of news coverage this morning. I’ve actually been doing pretty well not doing that so far, but today that came crashing down. Also, I have a terrible chest cold and am generally miserable, so I am not sleeping well.  And before you ask, no I don’t have the virus. I have no fever at all, I can smell and taste, I can breathe. I just have terrible allergies and cold like symptoms and the weather has been so icky that opening the windows to air out the house is not possible.  So basically I’m a ton of fun to be around today. Makes perfect sense that I would succumb to a few hours of the “world is going to end”; “the U.S. is doomed”; “we are all going to die” programming. I’ll pull myself out of it soon, but that’s where I am mentally right now.

Here’s our schedule for today:


Of course, the times are subjective – we actually aren’t going to probably get started until 11. The princess is not feeling it this morning and I’m not feeling like the fight.  BUT she is excited that we have a science block scheduled and that I put math games on the schedule instead of more traditional worksheets. My goal in all this is to just keep the slide from happening – I’m not equipped to actually train her in most math concepts, but I can make sure that the math facts and principles she already has don’t dessert her. That and making sure that she keeps moving, reading and experiencing new things is really all I’m equipped to do at this point.  If, for some reason too scary to contemplate, this homeschool thing would have to extend further, then I would need to reassess that plan and perhaps move into a more concrete curriculum. We are doing our best today and there isn’t much more we can be expected to do. 

The 4th grade classes from Arden’s school are scheduled to take a field trip to Chicago on May 1st.  One of the places they are supposed to visit is Shedd Aquarium. She has really been looking forward to the trip, but as more and more things are getting cancelled, it is very likely this trip will as well.  I think she knows that in her mind, but is clinging to the hope that it will still happen. To help mitigate this disappointment, I was excited to find that Shedd does videos of their animals and shares some information about them through their website.  So this week, we will be visiting virtually. Here’s the link if anyone is interested.

I’m hopeful that things will make a dramatic turn towards the positive and she will get to go on this trip – but if not, this is at least something fun to watch and “escape” the house for a few minutes.

News of the Day: Global coronavirus cases surpassed 395,000 to date, with more than 17,000 deaths.

In the United States, there have been more than 46,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 600 deaths.

The World Health Organization said the United States has the “potential” of becoming the epicenter of the virus.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed until 2021.

Plan for the Day: Math, reading and science and then Momma is going to lay down for a while.  Clean the kitchen (I feel like all I do is wash dishes – because we are eating all our meals here and we don’t have a dishwasher.) My hands are always washed! 

See you tomorrow!


The Coloring Song

Day 7

And just like that, it’s been a week. We’ve entered the phase of this process where I need to remind myself what day it is. It is Sunday, in case you didn’t remember either. A lot of churches are doing online services and I’ve clicked on a couple to see what that looks like around the country. My attention span is really short this week.  Like scary short. I can typically tune into things pretty easily and not get distracted, but I seem to be mentally bouncing all over the place. I can’t concentrate on a book for very long, I find myself just flipping channels – unable to land on something for more than a couple minutes. I wander from task to task, not completing any one thing.  

Only a couple things have been able to settle my mind and spirit this week – writing and painting.  Writing is not a surprise, because I love to write and I often turn to it when I can’t find peace in other places.  The painting, however, is strange. I am the opposite of artistic. I can’t draw a straight line. I have one thing I can draw and it isn’t really drawing – more a collection of rectangles.  For some reason, however, I picked up a bunch of easy painting projects at Dollar General when I was stocking up on home school supplies. And so, this week when I’ve felt my mind bouncing all over the place, I put on some music and pull out one of these things. And, in my very limited way, create a little beauty.  It is settling. I don’t think it is quality work, but it has been therapeutic.  Arden has been painting with me.  She likes the more free-form type.  I need a picture that is already created.  So, I’m basically coloring with a paint brush.    

There were a lot of emotional outbursts over the last couple days.  Arden is very sad and lonely and convinced we are never going to be back to normal.  I am trying very hard to encourage her, but she isn’t alone in her sadness. Last night she had her first nightmare of this ordeal and that was a bit heart breaking.  She couldn’t remember what she dreamed, but it was enough to drive her from her bed and into the living room (where I was laying on the couch because it was 5 a.m. and the dumb dog had needed to go outside before the sun came up – again).  We cuddled for a little while and she was able to go back to bed and get some more rest. She’s still sleeping, so I’m praying she is finding peace and letting her stay asleep as long as possible.

Yesterday, Terry ran into Burlington to get some supplies before our stay at home order went into place. He reported back that Wal-Mart was pretty well stocked up with things…however, they were out of toilet paper.  BUT they had shop towels. I have to be honest I didn’t know what a shop towel was – apparently it is a little thicker than a paper towel. I guess in a pinch you could use it instead of toilet paper – but I wouldn’t advise flushing it.  Especially if you have a septic system – like we do. Thankfully we don’t need toilet paper yet and the small grocery store nearest to us has been stocked really well with all those things, even if they are a little more pricey.  

I have a cold and am coughing a lot. Of course, my hypochondriac self thinks I’m dying of the VIRUS, which I’m not.  I do not have a fever or any other symptoms of Corona, but to be on the safe side, I had him pick up vitamins. For all of us.  I feel like such a grown up! I took them this morning and already feel better. It’s a miracle! 


Oh, I also cleaned out our microwave yesterday.  If you are looking for a less gross way to accomplish this feat – fill a shallow bowl with water, a couple tablespoons of vinegar and slices of lemon.  Put it in the microwave and “cook” for 5 minutes. Allow it sit in the microwave a few more minutes after “cooking” and then wipe out the microwave with a damp rag.  Took all the ickiness out and left it smelling very clean. So that project took up 10 minutes, if you count the cutting up of the lemons watching the bowl spin around in the oven.

I have no idea what we are going to do today. There a couple carpet stains I’ve been meaning to clean and I guess we’ll need to eat at some point. I should probably come up with something else.  It is cold and raining/snowing today – so outside is not really an option other than taking the dog out. Hopefully inspiration will strike at some point in the next few minutes.

News of the Day: American hospitals are in desperate need of medical masks. Testing seems to be getting more available but still not at the number that is said to be needed.

Vice President Pence and his wife have tested negative for the virus.  

Congress is still negotiating a stimulus package for direct financial relief. 

Global cases have doubled in a week to 300,000. 

Plan for the Day: Yeah, I have no idea.

See you tomorrow!


Cry Me A River

Day 4

Hey, it’s Thursday!  My child just said she can’t wait to get back to school for P.E.  I don’t even know who we are anymore. P.E.???? What is happening?  I guess I need to find a ball and start throwing it at her or something.  I’m not even sure I have a ball. And this, along with the fact that long division was on the menu for today’s math lesson, is why I was a tolerable high school history teacher, but will never teach elementary. 

I haven’t done long division without a calculator since approximately 1989. I’m pretty sure that muscle has atrophied. It ain’t happening. Will the child be incapable of functioning as a productive member of society if she can’t do long division on paper?  Is she destined for a life of crime? I Googled how to do it and I don’t even recognize the steps – like none of it looks familiar. So, I can’t do long division and I’m not a criminal. She’ll probably be fine. Right? I think Terry might remember how to do it.  He’s making sure no one vandalizes the forest right now, so I can’t ask. Maybe he can help her tomorrow?  

Today was the first time – on this journey – we’ve had tears over school work – both of us.  Division was our Waterloo. See what I did there? Waterloo – it is a history reference – I KNOW HISTORY!  

Thankfully, there were other options for today’s math work – so we put the division worksheet to the side and proceeded with what made us feel confident and successful.  We’ll try division later (after I’ve found a YouTube video to remind me how the heck to divide).  Or we won’t.  I mean, who exactly is going to make me!?!?!  


Yesterday went much more smoothly than this morning has.  We did our math and reading with no incident. We finished our bread preparations and baked it.  It was delicious. We did two science experiments. I posted one on Facebook, but below is the second.  This one’s for Rock Candy and will take several days to complete. But in the end – Candy!


Arden was supposed to learn how to make Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner last night.  I even chopped up all the ingredients so they were all ready, but then she got a video call from a friend from her old school and off she went.  I was so happy to see her so happy to have some human interaction (even if it was on a screen), that I made the soup myself. That also turned out well – she can learn how to make it another time. It isn’t like we’re going anywhere!

News of The Day: President Trump signed Families First CoronaVirus Response Act.  This legislation gives free virus testing and paid emergency leave for those who are sick or caring for a family member who is sick. It also gives Medicaid funding, food assistance and unemployment benefits for more people.

Congress is also working on additional legislation which may give money directly to citizens whether infected or not.  There is real concern about how these things will be paid for once this crisis has passed, but there doesn’t seem to be any way around providing assistance to people and the current economy.

The latest reason for public outrage are the masses of college students celebrating their spring break on the beaches of Florida, rather than self-distancing like the rest of us.  The outrage is probably righteously disguised jealousy, because they are there and we are here. Staring at our walls and our families and desperately wishing we had a daiquiri in our hands and our feet in the sand.  Either the children are complete idiots or we are – and truthfully I doubt we will ever know for sure.

Today we have severe storms coming through the area. The temperatures are supposed to get as high as 68 and then crash overnight. Because it is spring in the Midwest and the weather here is bipolar – and in these uncertain times, there is a bit of reassurance in the reliability of the whackadoo weather here in Illinois. 

Plan for the Day: Recover from the trauma of this morning’s math debacle. Work through the rest of our schedule.  DO THE LAUNDRY. If I keep putting this task on the list, maybe it will actually happen. Probably ought to scrub the toilet at some point.  

See you tomorrow!



Come Rain or Come Shine

Day 3

Good Morning! It’s another beautiful day in the forest under government recommended isolation.  Actually it is cold and rainy and dreary and gross. We slept in – even the dog until all of 5:45 a.m.!! I, again, was able to go back to sleep after taking him outside.  I set an alarm, but apparently my body had different ideas because I didn’t wake up until 9. I beat myself up for a minute for failing at my schedule just 2 days into this home teaching thing, but then realized that I will do much more egregious things before this ordeal is over, so I’m just going to save my self-flagellation until it is really a bad thing!  I simply adjusted our schedule for the day and pushed play on a good playlist. We have rain and storms (and a flood warning in the region for the weekend – because why not add a little natural disaster to the mix) but we also have coffee and waffles and warm socks and what will soon be fresh baked bread! So let’s do this thing!

Here is our new schedule for today:


Yesterday went very well.  We accomplished all of the school work we were scheduled to do and then did a science experiment and a little painting.  I showed Arden how to start the process for making the loaves of bread she loves to have when I make soup (She calls it Panera Bread – and I take that as very high praise!).  It is a no-knead recipe and other than measuring out the ingredients and patience, doesn’t really require a lot of skill – which for me is the key. I’ll post the recipe so you can try it if you happen to have the materials on hand, or can get the materials on hand and not get the plague.  We will finish that up today.



No Knead Bread Recipe

We took a long walk with Romeo yesterday.  It was cold but the sun was glorious and it was a good opportunity to get out and breathe some fresh air and talk.  Arden has a lot of questions and I have very few answers, but I think just letting her ask and us try to reason through it all together is calming her down a bit.  She has some interesting opinions on how long this will all last – some reassuring, some doomsday – and where’s the safest place to be – the forest is the safest but the least fun because there are no people!

Yesterday I really struggled with the reality that Arden is my only child.  She is stuck out here in the forest with no one but her parents for company right now. My sister posted a picture of her daughter and their neighbors having a play date from across the street – one child on one side of the street, the other child on the other side of the street – but still able to interact with each other.  It was adorable and creative, but nothing we can even get close to copying. This made me feel sorry for myself and my daughter for a few minutes. Remember how I said we are going to feel our feelings, but we aren’t going to live in them??  Yesterday was my opportunity to put those sage words into practice. I gave myself a few minutes to feel blue about it and then to pray that this is really just a 15 day exercise and we can get back to people in a couple of weeks – well at least Arden can get back to people at school – there are never going to be people in the forest. If there suddenly WERE people in the forest (other than just as visitors) we’d have a whole other set of problems and I don’t think I’d fair well in a zombie apocalypse.  I’m rambling. Sorry.

Today we are going to get creative on how to entertain ourselves while stuck inside – like really stuck inside – it is pouring!  Arden is working on math now and then we have reading and lunch. We are going to do a rock candy experiment, but it takes a week to complete, so she has requested we come up with another experiment to add that will be accomplished today.  So we are going to get the rock candy started and then do some tie-dye milk drawing.

Last night, I couldn’t bring myself to cook anything.  I had good intentions of getting the soup going, but we didn’t make it happen.  So, Terry said why don’t we order pizza!?!? Win/Win – stimulate the local economy AND Momma didn’t have to cook!  Hallelujah!

News of the Day: Today the U.S. closed the border with Canada (in addition to other international travel from other nations which was done in the past couple weeks). There are an estimated 200K people infected with the virus worldwide.  Severity of the sickness varies from no symptoms to severe respiratory distress and death.  

The country of origin of the virus – China – seems to be slowly recovering from the outbreak.  They have been on about a 3 month curve with this virus – so that may be an indication of the length we are looking at here.  Of course, they are a dictatorial regime and literally locked down their people with military force to slow the spread – I’m thinking that might not work in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  We shall see.

The Congress is working on a stimulus bill to help give financial relief to American workers who have been affected by the closing of many industries and businesses.  

Joe Biden won the IL, FL and AZ primaries last night.  He has a 300+ delegate lead over Bernie Sanders. This appears to be an insurmountable number.  It is thought Bernie will drop out in the next couple of days – leaving a Trump vs. Biden general election in the fall.  It will be interesting to see how the “Spring of Virus” impacts the election.

Philip Rivers, former Quarterback of the Los Angeles (San Diego) Chargers signed with the Indianapolis Colts for one year.  So it appears I will go from a Bolt to a Colt fan – this will make Terry very happy as he is an Indy fan. Tom Brady is NOT going to the Chargers – so I can keep cheering for them as well – but to Tampa Bay.

Plan for the Day: School work. Bread. Soup. Laundry. Survive and Advance.

See you tomorrow!



I Put Out All My Fall Decorations – So, the Weather Should Feel Free to Cooperate!

According to the calendar, Saturday is the first day of Autumn.  According to my car’s thermostat today, it is the 1,000th day of Summer.  It was 98 degrees yesterday.  Today it is likely to be 93.  This is not OK.  This is the exact opposite of OK.  It is awful.  My brain is melting!

Monday evening, I was getting things shut down around the house after tucking Arden into the bed, and I noticed a sound that seemed to be coming from the air conditioner.  I would best describe it as a forceful moving air sound – a whooshing, maybe.  I was tired and ready for bed and I wasn’t sure if the sound was really louder than normal, or if the house hadn’t been quiet enough while the a/c was running for me to actually pay attention to the sound of the a/c.  So I went to bed.

Tuesday I woke up and the sound was still occurring, so I got things going with the Princess (breakfast, lunch packed, clothes picked, etc.) and then woke up Terry and said “I think the a/c is dying,” and with the saying – my heart sank.  I typically work on Tuesdays, but I had a bunch of things that I needed to get done around the house so had taken the day off.  At that moment, saying that the a/c was dying, I felt like all my best laid plans were about to dissolve into a pool of sweat.

Terry went to investigate, and sure enough – the unit was frozen over.  So we turned it off and called for a repair man.  I started every fan we own blowing on high – the thermostat read 71 at the time, but I was absolutely sure I would be a/c-less for several days, so I was trying to keep the temp as low as I could so I would not have to move into a hotel!! This mama does NOT do heat.

As I often do, I over reacted.  Shocking.  The repairman came at noon, had it fixed by 1 (filter and low coolant levels deemed to be the problem) and my house was a cool 68 degrees in no time.  Crisis averted and I was able to get all my many chores accomplished – which included putting all my fall decor out….so that means it should be 65 today, right?  RIGHT!  It is not – BUT, as promised – here a few recommendations that might get you in the “mood” for cooler weather…


Jones’ Kinda Famous Chili


The starting point for this recipe comes from a church cookbook – Not By Bread Alone.  It is the pastor wife’s recipe and great by itself – but I have made some tweaks over the years and I’ve enjoyed the results.  I made it for a party a couple weeks ago and was asked several times for the recipe.  And 2 years ago, I won a chili cook off with it – so I’m going to say it is probably one of the best things I make.  So, time to share the love…


1 1/2 pounds of 75/25 ground beef – I have used less fatty levels of ground beef – but with chili I think you just need to embrace the grease and this is the best for this recipe.

1 medium onion diced

2 tablespoons Chili Powder

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste – I just guess at this – there is so much going on here, it would be hard to over salt and pepper – maybe a teaspoon each?  You do you

1 packet of dry chili mix – depending on your heat preference you can choose original or hot.  I prefer the generic Aldi packet (Friendly Farms, I think) for this – I don’t know why, but it always makes the best pot ‘o chili.

1 can of diced tomatoes

2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can chili beans in sauce


How to:

Brown ground beef with onions and Chili Powder/Cayenne/salt and pepper.  I use a dutch oven or large soup pan from start to finish – you want all the brown bits in the finished product! DO NOT DRAIN.  To cooked beef mix, add can of tomatoes and 1/4 of the chili mix pkt.  Let simmer together for a couple minutes.  Add tomato sauce and 1/4 of the chili mix pkt. Bring to boil.  Once boil has been achieved, lower the temp to medium low (you don’t want it to boil for very long, just enough to bring up the temp and then simmer it on medium low). Let cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. About 30 minutes through cooking, add 1/4 pkt of chili mix.

Add can of chili beans and remainder of chili pkt and continue cooking for 15 minutes.


Serve with shredded cheese, crackers or Fritos and sour cream if you like it – really whatever fixin’s you want. Chili is really good over mashed potatoes – did you know that?!?!  It is – try it and tell me I’m wrong!

Nothing says fall like a big pot of chili bubbling on the stove, football on the TV and cozy socks.  It is too hot of the socks right now – but crank down the a/c and give it a whirl!


I’ve read a lot of duds lately, but I think that is the way it goes when you are trying to read more books than you have in the past – you gotta kiss a lotta frogs.  However, I just read the most delightfully light, heart warming, feel good, romantic comedy type book that I think is worth the read.  Plus it is set in Oxford – and what makes you feel more like wearing tweed and sipping hot tea on a dreary fall day more than Oxford?  Not much I say! 35068830.jpg

This was simply delightful (and sad).  I hope she writes more.


Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People


1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard (the Chris Gethard Show, Broad City, This American Life, and one of Time Out’s “10 best comedians of 2015”). Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!

Episode 121 is amazing – “Prison Bound” – In a few days, this caller will turn herself over to federal authorities and begin a multi-year prison sentence. She tells Geth about how she ended up with a federal indictment, getting sober and all the fast food she’ll be eating before turning herself in.

Not all episodes are so sad or stark – some are funny, some are odd, some are just “hmmm” inducing.  There is some language in some of the episodes, so I wouldn’t listen with small children around.

I’ve enjoyed picking and choosing through 130 episodes when something looks interesting.

Well, alrighty then – that’s about it for today.  See, I can do light and cheerful as well as dark and needy!  Let me know if you try out any of the suggestions above.

See ya soon!

Reading Challenge Update and Some Random Things I Like Right Now

Yesterday’s blog was a bit depressing – so I thought today I’d lighten the mood a bit and give you an update on how my self-imposed reading challenge is going.  I’m also going to throw in some links to few things I’ve found lately that have made me think, smile, and/or cry. Hope you enjoy!

Book Challenge

As you may remember, this year I challenged myself to read 40 books. I set up my challenge on Goodreads – and I am happy to report, I have completed 21 of 40 books thus far in 2018!  It is all very exciting!  Only 19 books left and I’m feeling pretty confident in my ability and resolve to accomplish this goal.

Here are a couple books that I really enjoyed and a couple sentences to describe them.  These two books are what I consider good “summer” reading – so if you are interested in a quick, light and enjoyable way to spend some summer reading time, you might check them out.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

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Three generations. Seven days. One big secret.

I found this to be a fun and heart warming story about family secrets and how they impact not only the ones keeping the secrets but also those from whom the secrets are kept.  A character study of 3 generations of women in a tight-knit family all of whom have their own damage, heartbreak and ultimate redemption.

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg


I found this to be thoroughly charming.  This author has also written a book called Delancy about her and her husband’s adventure to open a pizza restaurant in Seattle.  It is delightful as well.  Food memoirs just make me happy.  Check this out if you are hungry for a good story and some good food!

Ok, so that’s the book part.  Here are a few other recommendations for things I’ve come across lately:


Set It Up on Netflix

Image result for set it upIn the mood for a good romantic comedy?  Check this movie out. It was cute and funny and light and airy and well Taye Diggs is in it – so that’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon!  I really enjoyed this movie, and it made think that it has been a LONG time since a decent rom-com has been out.  And that is just a shame!


How I Built This

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“How I Built This is an American podcast about “innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built” produced by NPR.”

Talk about inspiring!  I stumbled across this when I heard it referenced on NPR after the passing of Kate Spade (she and her husband are featured in a episode a couple years ago) and went to find it immediately.  I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not having known about it earlier – but that simply means I have a lot of listening to look forward to! There are interviews with all types of people from the inventor of Spanx to the founder of Starbucks and a ton in between.  Episodes are from 30 – 60 min long and so well done.  Highly motivational and idea sparking.  I thoroughly recommend.

The RFK Tapes


“From the creators of ​Crimetown​ and Cadence13, this is ​The RFK Tapes—an audio documentary series that takes a new look at the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. For the past fifty years, authorities have claimed that the case was open and shut. Sirhan Sirhan was captured at the scene, gun in hand. He admitted to the crime and is serving a life sentence. But some say there’s evidence of a larger conspiracy.”

I’m a sucker for a conspiracy theory and all things Kennedy – so this hits a lot of my “must listen” boxes. Crimetown is another favorite podcast of mine, so I had high hopes it would be good – they were fulfilled (so far).  This is a 10-part documentary podcast and so far there have been 4 episodes released, but I’m loving it.

TV Show:


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“Forty-year-old Liza (Sutton Foster) passes herself off as 26 to land a job — and now, she has to make sure no one discovers her secret.”

I recommend this with trepidation – because there are some adult themes in it, but it is set in the book publishing world and reminds me a bit of Melrose place without the cheesiness of the 90s mixed with Sex in the City without the trashiness of HBO.  All previous seasons (1-4) are available on Hulu and season 5 just started a couple of weeks ago.  Tuesday nights on TVLand.


Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole (don’t judge)

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole- simple, delicious, and hearty. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef, browned (I brown with garlic and a bit of diced onion and black pepper for taste)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 8 oz tub of sour cream
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more if you like more cheese)
  • 1 package of frozen tater tots
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  3. Layer the beef of the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a small bow, mix the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Then spread on top of the beef.
  5. Layer the cheese on top of the sour cream mixture.
  6. Layer the tater tots on top of the cheddar.
  7. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.
  8. Serve with ketchup and mustard for that cheeseburger taste!

This is SO not healthy, but oh so VERY good.  It has all the things you shouldn’t love but just can’t help yourself.  It is on a pretty steady rotation in my house.  Sometimes I make a salad as a side – just to make myself feel less guilty.


That’s all for today.  I hope you are having a fun summer so far!

See ya soon!


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