Monday, November 23, 2009

Cover Girl

Congratulations to my niece, Z, for becoming a cover girl!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where's the Inspiration?

I REALLY miss Southern Accents. I know I could count on them to have a Christmas tree on the cover of their December issue. I get lots of magazines, and am so disappointed by the lack of holiday articles. What is House Beautiful too cool for a tree? I'll take a Menorah, a Kwanza celebration, just give me a beautifully set table and inspiration. I want mantles decorated, trees and garlands. Candles lit and welcoming walkways. Wreaths on doors, and presents to admire the wonderful wrapping. Pages to inspire and aspire to. Every issue lately seems to be about "going green", but what about "going green and red"?!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Loving These

Now these are pants that scream PARTY! I wish Vineyard Vines made then for me. If only my husband would wear them for our Christmas Party.

Apple Butter

I made this last week, and it was easy and well received. It was from Midwest Living October 2008.

4 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and slices (about 12 cups)
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place apple slices in a 4 quart slow cooker. Stir in sugar, water. vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.

Cover, cook on high heat setting 5-6 hours. Stir. Cool at least an hour . or cover and chill overnight. Ladle apple butter into half-pint storage or freezer containers, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Seal and label. Store 3 weeks in refrigerator or for 1 year in freezer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Badger Football Saturday

Students celebrating at 10am, let the partying begin!
(Or are they just continuing from Friday night?)
Get the Red out! Fans pouring into Camp Randall Stadium on a perfect football weather day.
Half time, and the UW Marching Band
Led by Mike Leckrone, he is amazing! and so is the band!
We won!!!
A Wisconsin Tradition: The Fifth Quarter
No one leaves after the football game is over, because the band starts their own show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What did you do today, Honey?

S's tree with a cowboy and Indian theme
J's tree with a nautical theme
Guest room, all gold and ivory

I had S home with pink eye, and thought I could get a head start on decorating. I always have the upstairs done before Thanksgiving, so the boys can enjoy the season I little longer. I start on the downstairs as soon as the last person in pulling out of the driveway on Thanksgiving! I love Christmas and decorate everything. So three trees down, five more to go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

That's Mommy to You

J drew me this picture tonight, and then asked how to spell my name. I asked, Gwen or Mommy? He said Gwen, so I spelled it out and he went off to sign his masterpiece. He presented this, with great flourish, explaining that "it's one of those big trees in Savannah with the stuff (Spanish moss)hanging from it". "I know you will like this, because you like it there." I could just spread him on toast!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween on Vine Street

S as Simon from Alvin and the Chipmunks
Sherlock and Simon
J as Sherlock Holmes
Me in my very pouffy skirt (300 yards of tulle!) and my couture hat!
Dessert thanks to Copps.

What a Class Act!

Article by Doug Moe
Picture from

There was no mistaking the sound of the snap.

"It's metal breaking," Meg Six was saying Wednesday. "It was pretty loud."

Earlier this month, at the Midwest qualifier for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association's single-handed national championships in Texas in November, something happened on Lake Michigan that Six had never witnessed before in a sailboat racing career that began in Lake Geneva when she was 13.

Six, a UW-Madison sophomore, races for the University of Wisconsin Sailing Team. It's a club sport on the Madison campus, but the team is highly competitive even against varsity squads.

In the first of three races scheduled for Oct. 11 in the chilly water off Milwaukee, Six was running second behind her Wisconsin teammate, Christine Porter, and just ahead of Lauren Knoles of Michigan State.

But that Sunday morning, the unthinkable happened. Racing just behind Porter and Six of Wisconsin, Knoles was making adjustments on her boat, aiming for more bend in the mast, when the mast snapped nearly in two.

Six, closest to Knoles, called out, "Are you OK?"

Knoles yelled back. "I'm fine."

But she wasn't, not really. There were tears on her cheeks.

Six could tell that Knoles' boat was completely disabled. It meant the defending champion and current regatta leader would not only not finish the race, she would also miss Sunday's last two races and fail to qualify for nationals.

The top two women in the Midwest qualifier would advance to the national championships next month in Corpus Christi. But the qualifying regatta is a cumulative event - seven races over the Oct. 10-11 weekend - and by the first race Sunday, the fourth overall, Meg Six was out of contention for nationals. She'd been battling illness since summer and had not had a good regatta.

Knoles of Michigan State was first overall starting Sunday morning. The junior is a highly accomplished sailor, having won the Midwest qualifier her freshman and sophomore years. She finished fifth nationally last year.

Porter, now leading, called over to her teammate Six.

"Somebody should give up their boat," Porter said.

"Christine is a competitor and didn't want to win by default," Six said this week.

Six swung her boat around until she was next to Knoles. "Lauren," Six said, "do you want my boat?"

At first, Knoles appeared stunned by the offer. Then she called out a thank you and the two women switched boats.

"I wasn't going to qualify," Six said. "I wanted the best sailor to compete. Lauren is a great sailor. It wouldn't be right if she couldn't go to nationals."

Six was towed in by a power boat, and missed the last two Sunday races.

Knoles scored no points for the first race Sunday - switching boats was the equivalent of not finishing that race - but using Six's boat she finished well in the final two races and qualified for the national regatta. Porter of Wisconsin qualified as well, and the two women will represent the Midwest in Corpus Christi Nov. 6-8.

Six's sportsmanship did not go unnoticed. She's received notes and e-mails from the Michigan State campus, and she was named "sailor of the week" by U.S. Sailing.

But the best reaction may have come that Sunday morning, only moments after Six gave up her boat, when her teammate Christine Porter came sailing by Meg in the disabled boat and yelled, "You're my hero!"

The line forms behind Christine.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

With Appreciation

My father in law died a week ago, of terminal cancer. He was diagnosed in May with colon cancer, which had spread to his liver and lungs. He spent the last months of his life uncomplaining and brave. He came from that John Wayne era of stoicism, so you know when he said it was painful, it must have been horrible. His colon had been removed, leaving him with a colostomy bag and Mary, my mother in law, took care of him every day. She slept on the couch, enduring sleepless nights, with the TV blaring and all the lights on, because Bob found comfort in that. She continued to take him to dialysis three times a week, as they had done for the last 7 years. She catered to his every need, with unfailing support and love.
He was put into Hospice in Madison for what turned out to be only three days. I spent time with Mary, meeting with doctors, nurses, social workers and clergy. This group of people were amazing. Gently caring for Bob and meeting the needs of his grieving wife and family. I don't know how they do this job, it all seems so sad, but I am grateful they do. He, along with the family decided to stop dialysis, and he died two days later, surrounded by his three children and his wife of 50 years.
The last week has been exhausting, with relatives coming and going, the visitation and funeral, family dinners and beginning the task of thank yous and lawyer stuff. The service was lovely, and a letter my husband wrote to his Dad this past Father's Day was read. He was given a military funeral, with the flag folding, and it was heartbreaking to watch Mary accept the flag from a grateful nation.
Bob was a quiet, composed man. He was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was a small child. He joined the Marines, and was a veteran of the Korean War. He put himself through the UW, with a degree in enginering. A staunch Conservative and Republican (we didn't talk religion or politics). A man who didn't show a lot of emotion, but was very proud of his family. He donated his time and money to the causes he felt worthy. When he gave a compliment, you really paid attention, beacause they didn't some frequently.
He will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If I only had a brain.............

It's Official! There is nothing in my head. I had a CAT scan today, and the doctor called with the results. Yep, nothing. My husband wasn't surprised. I am glad to get Arnold Schwarzenegger out of my head. I have had a headache for two months, and I keep hearing him say "it's not a toomah". Don't know the cause of the headaches yet, but we have eliminated the big C.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ready for Bake Sale

I am ready for the 8th grade bake sale at school. I don't have an eighth grader, but I like to contribute something. The money raised goes toward their class trip to DC. I guess technically I didn't bake anything, but I dipped each pretzel rod and coated them with seasonal sprinkles. I know the kids will really like them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Go Big Red!!!

Spent Saturday night in a luxury box at the Kohl Center watching the University of Wisconsin Badger's skate against Colorado College. We were invited to the game by a friend of B's, who is also a former Badger hockey player. It was interesting to watch the game with someone with that perspective. Go Bucky!
The Student Section. Where do they get the energy? It was also Homecoming Weekend. Their fun and crazy. I always cry while singing Varsity.
The game seemed slow to me. I tried to control myself, husband embarrasses easily. We tied 1-1, in overtime.

Thanks, Aunt Judy!

Thank you, Aunt Judy, I love my new apron. B even commented that the colors are my favorites. I said "of course, she pays attention!" I wear an apron almost all day, every day. It helps keep my clothes free of oil, tomato sauce and every other kind of splatter. The other day I got splattered with bacon grease, my clothes were still clean, my face, on the other hand, got a a lovely splotch of instant blister that has now turned into an even lovelier scab. It hurt like hell!
My Aunt is amazing, so talented. She did a chalk drawing of a sheep dog and puppies when I was a little girl, and it now hangs in S's room. I can't draw a thing. Check out her site on etsy here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mad for Plaid

I saw these shoes today and just had to have them. Then I came home to the November issue of Country Living and a whole spread about plaid. I am mad about it too!

Ready for Halloween

I made myself a huge poufy tulle skirt for my Halloween costume, and upon seeing it, my niece wanted one to. I was happy to oblige. She is going to be a purple witch, and she really loves her skirt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christmas Countdown Idea

I just got the new Garnet Hill catalog and noticed this adorable Christmas decoration. I know the boys would get a huge kick out of counting down the days, and picking a little treat of the bucket. Maybe I'll try to make one myself.

Oh, the weather outside ...

October 10, 2009
It is Snowing!! Flurries that melt on impact, but the kids are still excited!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What to do...

Since both boys are in school all day now, I have been left in my home for the longest stretches of time I've ever had here alone, since the kids were born. I have cleaned closets, purging the clothes I will never wear or fit into again. I have cleaned out the refrigerator, making it look like a still life with bowls of lemons and the like. I cleaned the silverware drawers. Vacuumed the yucky old basement steps, followed by cleaning the basement. I've organized photos. Had the chimney cleaned and had wood delivered for the winter. I moved plants in from outside, filling the enclosed front porch with herbs and ferns, and the huge Sago palm. I have made pumpkin bread, banana bread, cookies, savory breads, soups, chili, and at this rate, I will end up weighing 300 pounds. Yesterday, I found myself cleaning the toaster. Good Lord, Gwennie, get a grip. Or at least a hobby. I am going a little stir crazy, and it isn't yet the dead of winter when you are stuck at home, surrounded by drifts of snow. But I am trying not to shop, and that leaves me with lots of time on my hands. What to do next?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Snack Attack a Must Read

Attention any parent who has packed snacks/lunch for their child for school: Please read Mrs. Blanding's blog. Her snack experience is hysterical. Thank goodness my kids don't have that teacher!

Good Bye Gourmet

I just read that Conde Nast is shutting down Gourmet magazine. What the #%@*?! And Cookie, which is funny, since I just got a renewel notice from them today in the mail. Southern Accents is gone, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! I get lots of magazines, but my mail is carrying less and less for me. As a stay at home mom, the mail can be the highlight of my day.

Talking Spirits at Forest Hill Cemetery

Sunday, my friend Jean and I went to Forest Hill Cemetery for the Talking Spirits tour, presented by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. This is their eleventh year, but the first one I've ever made it to. It was so interesting, and I can't wait to go back next year. If you are in the area, don't miss it! It features one-person plays throughout the cemetery, giving a history lesson about individuals buried there. This year was about people with civil war ties. Above is actor, Tom Collins, portraying John W. Jefferson, grandson of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. What a history lesson!

Bascom B. Clarke, portrayed by Atlas Brewster, was a Civil War orphan, and went on to become the publisher of American Thresherman magazine. This kid was amazing. He spoke, in character, for a good 15 minutes. Completely impressive.
George Washington Spears, played by Brian Belz, was a Confederate Soldier taken prisoner in 1862. He was shot and killed by a Union sentry at Camp Randall in Madison, while protecting his brother, a fellow prisoner. The rest of the prisoners died from illness. Behind him you can see the most Northern Confederate graveyard.

Pumpkin Season

We went to pick pumpkins on Saturday morning, at a farm on Hwy 151 in Sun Prairie. This farm is idyllic with a yard full of pumpkins, gourds, squash and the like. A retriever named Max greeted us, a mallard and some chickens also wanted to see what was going on, and a black and white cat kept the boys entertained.

A back end full of pumpkins.
My decorating, and apple eating, helper.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It seemed like a good idea...

It seemed like a great idea. I saw this HUGE Sago palm at Home Depot this summer, and thought it could sit on my patio, reminding me of Charleston. Okay, first problem, it weighed quite a bit. Second, it barely fit into my minivan. But home it went, with two guys putting it into my van, and two different guys moving it onto my patio. Now comes fall, and a frost advisory for tonight. B and I got the plant back into the house............... but now where does it go? Hmmm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Morning, Mr Lincoln

On Saturday, we took the boys to the Wade House for a Civil War Reenactment. They talked to President Lincoln, who S was in awe of. The actor did a fabulous job, and it was amazing how much history all the reenactors know.
We went to a reading and signing for the book, B is for Battle Cry. The author and illustrator, Patricia Bauer and David Geister, were as nice as could be, signing both the boys books and posing for pictures. This husband and wife team told the boys how a single book can influence your entire life. I completely agree.

I had never heard a canon in person, and holy cow, are they loud. The earth shakes, and your ears ring. I can't imagine the fear of the poor people who happened to live near a battle site.
The artist came by the boys to sketch the battle. I think S's nose prints are on his sketchpad!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September Issue at Sundance Cinema

The September Issue opened yesterday in Madison, and I was at the Sundance Cinema for the first showing. I really enjoyed it, and could see how some of the traits of Anna Wintour were portrayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Ms. Wintour describes herself as decisive, and I agree that is a good trait. Don't waste my time, and I won't waste yours. She knows the vision she wants, and goes for it. But to work with/for her you better have a thick skin, she can be somewhat harsh. I remember that cover of Vogue, September 2007, with Sienna Miller, I wasn't overly impressed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homemade Applesauce

Thank you Ina Garten! I love this applesauce from her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. It's so easy, tastes wonderful and my whole house smells amazing. I got the apples at Jerry's Apples, from Jerry himself. This is also the home of Jimmy the Groundhog. I felt so honored!


  • 2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 to 8 apples)
  • 3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (about 6 to 8 apples)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel, and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 hour, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Black Turtleneck

Nothing looks better on a man than a black turtleneck. It is like the male version of the "little black dress". I wouldn't kick any of these men out of my bed for eating crackers.