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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers

Mary Travers, age 72, died yesterday from Leukemia. Peter, Paul and Mary was the background of my childhood, the only "modern" music my parents allowed. Those sweet, tender, innocent songs, that I sang along to. I now play their music to my own children. Puff, the Magic Dragon, If I Had a Hammer, and my favorite, Inch by Inch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, B!

Today is husband's 44th birthday! And I made his favorite chocolate cake. Perfection, him and the cake.

Fundraisers, anyone?

I am President-elect of the school's Parent Guild, and we are looking for new fundraising ideas. What have you done? What worked? What didn't? We found an exciting one for this fall with a CSA, my list is long, and my stomach will be full. What has your school got going?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze - I Had the Time of My Life

Patrick Swayze was a class act. Married for a long time, and you never heard a a word of scandal. While many people will remember him in Ghost, The Outsiders, Point Break, road House and, of course, Dirty Dancing, I always think of him with Chris Farley, in this Chippendale's try out on Saturday Night Live. Together they made this skit a classic. Chris was a local boy from Madison, so I have a fond place for him also.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where have all the balloon fights gone?

Below is an article that was in the Wisconsin State Journal yesterday. Thank you Mr. Bromley for voicing something I have been concerned about for a long time. I think I am doing my boys a favor by giving them hours, days, weeks, months of free time. Right now our yard has Big Wheels and scooters scattered, sidewalk chalk has created art on the driveway, and there is rope tied to trees for some reason I'm not aware of. I am giving my boys freedom and a childhood.

Open your front door, lean out to listen and you'll hear two things: First, the sound of your electric bill tripling as you let conditioned air escape your home. And second, the silence of children not at play outdoors.

Think about it: When is the last time you saw kids playing ball in the yard? Or running after each other in a game of tag? Or launching counteroffensives in a water balloon fight?

Driving through my neighborhood this summer, there was scant evidence of the existence of children. Yet I know they're out there somewhere, because the schools are always hitting me up for fundraisers. And somebody out there must be buying all those Bratz dolls and Transformers action figures.

Back in my youth in the 1980s, a period archaeologists one day will label the Jazzercise Era, we were always at play outside with the neighbor kids. Almost daily we'd round up Timbob, Sniff, the Beast and the Brendemuehl brothers for baseball games. We also were known to organize lemonade stands, squirt gun wars and haunted houses so scary they made our little brothers wet their Underoos.

I don't see much of that going on anymore, and it's not just because nobody's buying Underoos. Why are kids neither seen nor heard these days?

This is where I'm supposed to label today's kids as lazy dweebs too busy playing PlayStation to realize their brains and physiques are turning to marshmallow, or that the reason they're not playing in the yard is that they're up in their bedrooms surfing the Internet or manufacturing crystal meth.

But I don't believe that. I don't blame their lack of outdoor play on kids at all. I blame us, their parents.

Kids don't have to organize pickup games anymore because parents have taken over. Who has time for a game out back with the neighbor kids when you've got Little League two nights a week and basketball league one night a week, not to mention daily swim team practice?

Why haven't you seen kids staging plays in the front yard? Probably because they're at dance camp, or taking voice lessons, or attending a drama seminar.

Qualifier No. 1: There's nothing wrong with these constructive activities. Better to have kids improving themselves than hanging out in the Hardee's parking lot, the place in my hometown where wayward youths went to get high on saturated fat.

Qualifier No. 2: It's understandable why parents have gotten more involved. It only takes a scan of daily headlines to see that letting our kids romp about the neighborhood unsupervised isn't as safe as it once seemed.

Yet I can't help but feel kids are losing out now that everything is structured by adults. What about the lessons in initiative and organization we got as kids when it came to rounding up players, dividing them into equally matched teams, establishing rules and mediating disputes?

Wonder why nobody can resolve disagreements among themselves anymore, why every dispute ends up in court? Maybe it's because kids grow up counting on rulings from authority figures - referees, umpires, judges - rather than using diplomacy to craft mutually agreeable compromises. When I was a kid, keeping a ballgame going required the wisdom of Solomon because any argument over umpiring could result in up to four Brendemuehls leaving in protest, effectively ending the contest.

I fear kids are missing out on valuable lessons in self-reliance. And I begin to think the biggest mistake we parents make is doing for our kids things they can and should do for themselves.

I hope the next time I open my door to listen, the sound I hear won't be silence, but the calming words of a backyard barrister talking some buddies out of taking their ball and going home. But I'd settle for the frightened screams of little brothers fleeing a homemade haunted house in drenched Underoos.

Bromley is a columnist for the Baraboo New Republic;

bbromley@ capitalnewspapers.com.

Congratulations, Amy!

My sister is a fantastic photographer, and was featured in Professional Photographer Magazine in an ad this month. She is so talented, and I am so proud of my little sister. Check out her work on her website.

Stoughton Opera House

In today 77 section of the Wisconsin State Journal, they featured the Stoughton Opera House. Check it out. This was my Dad's pet project after he retired, and where I was married. Right there on the stage. It is a beautiful facility, and we have seen several great performances there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eliza B warehouse sale

October 17th is our big blow out tent sale!
We will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Our factory store will then be closed until November 28th, at which point we will be geared up for the holiday season and the store will be open on Saturdays through December 19th!

The Eliza B Factory Store is located at

55 Plains Road in Essex, Connecticut 06426

From the South, use I-95 North and take exit 65. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left. You will soon pass through two stop lights. Simply continue on Route 153 for 4.5 miles. At the third stop light, you will see Oliver's Tavern on the left and a shopping center on the right. Proceed through the light, and after about 400 yards you will see an open-truck farm on your left. The next two buildings on the left comprise Brockway Ferry, the parent company of Eliza B.TM Turn into the second driveway.

From the North, use I-95 South and merge onto Route 9 North via exit 69. Take exit 3, and at the end of the ramp turn left. At the next stoplight, turn left again. You will cross over a set of railroad tracks, and you will pass the Essex Savings Bank. Look for Bombacci Tree Service on the right. The next two buildings on the right comprise Brockway Ferry, the parent company of Eliza B.TM Turn into the first driveway.

From the Hartford Area, use Route 9 South and take exit 3. At the end of the ramp, cautiously continue straight, crossing Route 154. Proceed another 300 yards and turn right onto Route 153. You will cross over a set of railroad tracks, and you will pass the Essex Savings Bank. Look for Bombaci Tree Service on the right. The next two buildings on the right comprise Brockway Ferry, the parent company of Eliza B.TM Turn into the first driveway.

I received this info today, and I wish I could get to this sale. I love their flip-flops, and in fact are wearing a pair this minute! If you are in the area, go! And then let me know what you got!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Antique Silver

I just received my copy of Charleston Magazine today (when it arrives, it instantly becomes a better day) and really enjoyed the article about antique silver. I have lots of silver, but nothing like the one above. I'll have to add it to the "if I ever win the lottery" list.

Let's start at the very beginning

Check this out! My friend sent me this, and it just lifted up my spirit. Could your use a lift?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Plastic Pink Flamingoes named Official City Bird

This is a picture, from September 4, 1979, on the UW Madison campus. The student government, the Pail and Shovel party, placed 1008 plastic pink flamingoes on Bascom Hill. This week the City Council named the plastic pink flamingo as the Official Bird of the city of Madison. Guess they have solved all the other issues of the city.
This is the other prank the Pail and Shovel Party did. They "dropped" the Statue of Liberty into Lake Mendota, in February of 1979. These guys were incredibly creative.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jockeys on Animal Planet

Let me say for the record, I know nothing about horses, and in fact, am afraid of them. (You remember the ponies that went around in a circle at fairs when we were kids? I got bucked off!) But I really like this show. Has anyone seen this program? I loved last season, and need to remember to tune in on Friday for Season 2. It makes you appreciate the hard work and danger involved with being a jockey, and after you see how thin these guys (and gals) are, you don't snack while watching. You can watch a preview on Animal Planet.

Our 8th Anniversary

B and I got married 8 years ago today, on the stage at the Stoughton Opera House. My father was the restoration chair for this hundred year old theater, and worked hard to restore it to it's former glory. We honored him by choosing that spot to exchange our vows.
This is the best thing I did at our wedding, every person got on the stage to have this group picture taken. It hangs in our house, and people love looking for themselves when they visit.
Every year on our anniversary, I have Carl make a cake like we had at our wedding. We have string of pictures for each year.

First Day of School

J and S ready to head off to school.
J and A showcasing new school supplies. (J has had a crush on A since Pre-K, and I approve whole heartedly, isn't she sweet!?)
The cranes showed up for soccer practice.