Friday, April 30, 2010

Field Trips

Exploring west of the Mississippi in the Twin Cities provided ample photo opportunities the past few days for me. I am posting some pictures for you to enjoy. And I might add it was very difficult to just choose a few!
The first set of photos are from Art in Bloom. It is a four day festival of floral arrangements paired with fine art currently at the Minneapolis Institute off Arts. This year's event has a Japanese theme. The energy and creativity of some 160 floral artists were quite eye catching and thought provoking. Each floral arrangement was created to evoke the spirit, energy and mood of a particular piece of fine art.
The second set of photos were taken from the Mill City Museum 8th floor observatory, Mill Ruins Park, St. Anthony Falls, Lock and Dam and Stone Arch Bridge.
Both of these trips were a reminder to me that we do not have to travel far since we have beauty right at our own doorstop.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Chapter Ten
Holokai reached into the bag and took out one banana. As he peeled the skin back the crowd waited expectantly for the next thing to happen. After enjoying his banana treat, Holokai took out three more whole bananas and began to juggle. The crowd gasped since this seemed like quite a feat when round objects are usually used in juggling.
Holokai smiled and said,"Okay everybody watch this cascade... I'm moving to four bananas... now I'll reverse the pattern!"
The crowd clapped watching such an impressive performance of juggling bananas no less. Will then stepped out with 5 bananas. He and Holaki kept juggling and throwing bananas back and forth in succession entertaining the crowd. Will stepped aside and Holokai started juggling 3 bananas, four... "All right everybody watch. I am going to add two more and try for a column. This is where all bananas travel up and down and are caught from where they are thrown without any sideways motion."
The crowd drew their breath and Will could feel trouble brewing with Holokai's overconfidence. Four bananas went up and came down, five bananas went up and came down, six went up...
"Oh no!" gasped the crowd as six bananas went up so high that the overhead light shattered. And then...the store went dark. Amidst screams and cries the manager got out his bullhorn and shouted, "Okay everyone keep calm! We have a backup generator that will be on any minute."
Will and Holokai were horrified by the chain of events since everything had been going so well. As the lights came on there was a huge sigh of relief. Holokai used some quick thinking "Hey everybody it's time for the drawing for monkey socks."
He bounced over to the box to pull out a winning slip. Just as he was about to draw a slip out there was a loud cry, "Wait a minute!"
All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Riddle

What's round, full and pink all over?
Answer: The moon April 28.
It is also known as the egg moon, the full moon in April. The name comes from the wild ground pink phlox which are one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring. Full moon names date back to Native Americans. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Sometimes the moon actually appears pink which is said to be caused by dust and pollution.
While I did see a fantastic full moon tonight it did not appear to be pink. The sky was deep blue almost blackish color which made the moon stand out even more. If you missed this spectacular sight be sure to look for it tomorrow night. Perhaps the moon will inspire your creativity.

I am just going to write because I cannot help it.
Charlotte Bronte

Monday, April 26, 2010

Born To be Wild

Chapter Nine: Off to a Shaky Start
As the Sockland Express pulled up in front of the Sock Mart, a sizable crowd had already gathered waiting for the store to open. Just as Will and Holokai approached the front door screams and shrieks began. "Look! There he is!" yelled several customers who then ran towards them.
As the crowd size increased the manager hurriedly came out. He had a huge bullhorn in his hand. His voice boomed, "Stand back everyone! Let Holokai and his friend Will in the door. You can see his show which starts shortly. He will be on the sock tree in the display window. While you wait don't forget to fill out entry slip to enter the drawing. Each hour one lucky name will be picked to win a pair of monkey socks just like the ones Holokai has on today. Be sure to check out all our store specials when you are doing your shopping."
While the crowd rushed to the table to get a form, Will and Holokai managed to slip by and run into the store. They were loaded down with several bags. "Wow, that was a close call. I might say Holokai, they seem seem rather excited to see you today. Let's go get all your stuff set up." said Will.
The last few days Will had been helping Holokai plan tricks with a few crowd pleasing surprises. Will reminded Holokai about the manager's rules: He was the only one allowed on the tree, only one pair of monkey socks an hour could be given away and no other socks from the tree could be given to the customers.
Just as the clock neared 10:00 Holokai bounced out to the front window. He waved to the crowd. The laughed uproariously at his outfit. Will had made him a little superman costume. It was a one piece light blue suit with a red cape. Holokai felt quite invincible and I might add strong as he swung from branch to branch performing all sorts of gymnastic tricks. He felt like a trapeze artist swinging high above the crowd. All the applause pumped him up even more.
After an hour or so Will brought out his uncle's antique organ grinder. A hush fell over the crowd as they were fascinated to see how it worked. As Will turned the handle a lively tune could be heard. Holoklai bounced around the crowd that had gathered near the window with a tin cup in his hand. Each time a coin clinked into the cup he clapped his hands in delight. This was indeed a crowd pleaser. Holokai's four hours were almost up when he ran to his bag and pulled several bunches of bananas. And that's when the real trouble began...

A Little KicK

Recently I came across this intriguing recipe in one of my cooking magazines. It was an ad for McCormick spice products. I thought a recipe using Roasted Saigon Cinnamon would be interesting in this Moroccan type of stew. Some of the ingredients I had to substitute with what I had on hand. I loved the results which defiantly had a bit of kick to it! Perhaps if you are feeling adventuresome in your cooking you might want to try it.
Cinnamon-Stewed Chicken
  • 2 tsp. Roasted Saigon Cinnamon (spice aisle)
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse grind black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 package frozen chicken tenderloins ( FYI... Cub has on sale this week)
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1-2 TB. minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 dry white wine
  • 2 cups water ( I used chicken broth)
  • 1- 6 0z. can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. ground oregano leaves
  • chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1- 6 0z. package dried cherries or chopped dried apricots or raisins- I used dried cherries and thought it was a nice balance to the tomato sauce with chicken
  • Mix salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice in a small bowl
  • Spread chicken pieces out on a cookie sheet and partially thaw about a 1/2 hour-sprinkle spice mixture over chicken to coat each piece
  • In a large deep fry pan at medium heat: add olive oil, minced garlic, onions, celery, pine nuts and chicken and cook about 15 minutes
  • Stir in wine and cook till almost evaporated
  • Stir in tomato paste, chicken broth or water, oregano, tomatoes, dried fruit and rice
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cover and place on a very low heat. Simmer about 3-4- minutes
  • More water may be added since rice does absorb a lot of the liquid
  • Make sure rice is cooked before removing from stove and serving

Note: Can skip adding rice directly to stew and serve chicken/sauce over Coriander rice

Friday, April 23, 2010


Frog pushed Toad out of bed.
He pushed him out of the house
and onto the front porch.

Toad blinked in the bright sun.
"Help!" said Toad.
"I cannot see anything."
"Don't be silly." said Frog.
"What you see
is the clear warm light of April.
And it means
that we can begin
a whole new year together, Toad.
Think of it," said Frog.
"We will skip through the meadows
and run through the woods
and swim in the river.
In the evenings we will sit
right here on this front porch
and count the stars."

"You can count them, Frog,"
said Toad. "I will be too tired.
I am going back to bed."

Toad went back into the house.
He got into bed
and pulled the covers
over his head again.

"But, Toad," cried Frog,
"you will miss all the fun!"

pp.7-10 from chapter Spring in Frog and Toad Together book written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel 1970
Yesterday I was in a classroom and the students were reading this book. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the Frog and Toad stories when my own children were in school. Since yesterday and today are the loveliest of spring days perhaps you will be motivated to skip through a meadow or run/walk through the woods and just enjoy spending time outside so as not to miss all the fun.
And then when you return... bake some of your favorite cookies. I am including one from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book (p.78) that is a family favorite.
Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1- 1/4 cup flour ( I have done half white and half wheat before and works well)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Mix sugars, margarine, butter, peanut butter and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or 45 minutes in freezer to speed things up
  • Heat oven to 375. Shape dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet
  • Flatten just slightly in a crisscross pattern with a fork dipped in flour
  • Bake 9- 10 minutes till light brown
  • Remove from oven and immediately place a Hershey Kiss candy in center

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Second Chance

Chapter Eight: Making Amends
The manager of The Sock Mart could see that Holokai was quite upset. He motioned for them to sit on chairs near his desk.
"Well, Holokai I did not expect to see you back here today," said the manager.
"I...I...I...I...'t have taken these socks," stammered Holokai taking deep breaths trying not to cry again.
" I haaaave sssssome money to pay." Holokai pushed some coins towards the manager on his desk.
"I can see why you wanted these socks since they do have a monkeys on them. How about I take your money and you keep the socks. Wear them Saturday for your first day on the job," said the manager.
Holokai sat up a little straighter in the chair and was beginning to feel just a bit better. This was good news. He was sure he had lost this new job for taking the socks before he even got a chance to prove himself worthy of it. "I promise I will never, never, never take anything again! And I know I can do a good job for you!"
The manager looked at him and said, "As long as you are here, let's talk about this new job. I would like you to work our busiest store times. The hours will be Saturday 10:00-2:00 and Sunday noon till 3:00. You can decide how to entertain the crowd on the sock tree in the display window. But remember... you can not have anyone else climb up on the tree. Also you can not give any socks away. We have planned a drawing each day for a pair of monkey socks just like this pair you have. You will be able to draw the name and give a pair away to whoever has the winning number."
"Ohhhhhhh that does sound fun," said Holokai in a very excited voice.
"Holokai, I will bring you here with Will on the Sockland Express Bus. Will has to stay with you and make sure everything goes well," said Rocky Socky.
Holokai bounced off his seat and right up on the manager's desk. Wrapped his arms around the manager's neck and said, "Thank you, thank you. I will do good. I promise!"
Rocky Socky thanked the manager for being so understanding. He grabbed Holokai's arm and exited quickly before Holokai could think of more trouble to cause. He was beginning to wonder how this new job would work out with The Sock Mart. He did not have a good feeling about it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Word Is Out

Spring has arrived Up North.
What a difference one week can make. Last weekend was the earliest ever for us to take the canoe out on the lake. Actually we had the lake to ourselves and only encountered a solitary loon. But this weekend was another story. With the arrival of more loons, seagulls and boaters the lake was a busy place.
Spring in some ways is a lot like the start of a new year: a time of new beginnings and changes. People seem more energized being outside, eager to start projects and tackle some cleaning. After the weekenders left a sense of quietness seems to prevail over the North woods. So imagine my surprise when the quietness was interrupted by faint whistling. Following the sounds led me into the woods right up to the door of the fairy cottage at the base of a large oak tree. But common sense told me it's best not disturb the wee folk. Perhaps they were inside doing their spring cleaning. Judging from all the debris around the cottage I could see they have plenty of outdoor work to do. Check out the photos I posted.
As for me, I took a break from my spring cleaning to continue reading a new book The Postmistress. It is such a thought provoking book crafted by Sarah Blake. This expansive epic takes the reader back into the early 1940's as the war raged in Europe. The story is told through the eyes of three women: a newlywed, a young American reporter in Britain and a local postmistress in Massachusetts. I found the premise of the story intriguing that two of the women find themselves unable to deliver the news and one women is desperately waiting for the news. As you might guess their lives intertwine. A word of caution: If you start reading your spring housecleaning will probably be put on hold!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Worry

Chapter Seven: An Unexpected Development
"Oh my gosh, Holokai you can't just take socks off the tree without paying for them," said Will.
"But Will look at them they are just my size and they even have monkeys on them!"
Holokai put on the socks, wiggled his toes and proudly dangled his feet over his seat. And then he jumped down. He practically bounced down the aisle showing off his new socks to the other passengers. They laughed at his funny antics. Meanwhile Will and Rocky Socky had what seemed like a serious discussion about what to do since Holokai took the socks without paying for them. Rocky's voice boomed over the loudspeaker. "End of the run have a good day!"
Holokai waved to Will as he got off the bus. "Holokai, even though my bus runs are done for the day we are going back to Sockland to the Sock Mart. I called and they are open till 9:00. You need pay for these socks," said Rocky Socky in a rather stern voice.
"But Rocky, I only have a few coins left and it's not enough," whined Holokai.
He was beginning to worry he would have to give the socks back.
"Let's see what the manager has to say. Perhaps you can work your first hour for free this weekend to pay for them," said Rocky Socky.
What seemed like a very short time the bus arrived back at the Sock Mart. By this time Holokai was sniffling and Rocky Socky had to practically drag him off the bus. Just as they found the manager's office Holokai started to sob as he took off his new socks. Rocky Socky knocked on the door they heard a voice say, "Come in."

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010
A picture of Holokai's new socks has been posted

Monday, April 12, 2010

A New Job for Will

Chapter Six:Please Say Yes!
"Please, pleaseeeeeeeeeeeese Will. Can I, can I?" whined Holokai bouncing up and down.
"We have to ask Rocky Socky. After all he is your caretaker and it's up to him not me to decide," said Will.
The manager's offer took them both by surprise. He must have had a quick change of heart wanting to hire Holokai. He thought it would be good for weekend business having Holokai performing tricks on the sock tree for shoppers.
The Sockland Express bus pulled right up on time. Holokai wasted no time running ahead of Will and others waiting to get on the bus. "Rocky Socky you'll never believe what happened! I got an offer to work on the weekends. Say yes... pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeee?"
"Wait for everyone to get on the bus first before you tell me your story,"said Rocky Socky.
They took front row seats behind him. The bus took off down the road and picked up speed. Will could feel the bus rising high into the air as it sailed over Sockland heading for home. "Okay Holokai, now what's this about a job?" asked Rocky Socky.
Holokai rushed into the story barely pausing for a breath. "I must say this certainly is an unexpected offer." said Rocky Socky. " But I do not see how this will work with my schedule. Sometime weekends are very busy for me. And besides you need someone to be with you at all times. Perhaps Will would be willing to take this on as a job if we paid him some money out of your salary. It would be like being a manager."
Will could see this seemed really important to Holokai and agreed but he laid out some conditions. "Holokai, if you want this to work you have to listen and follow the policies set up by the manager at the store. Also you can not invite anyone up on the tree to be a part of your act. And lastly, you will have to practice your routine first at home and let me see it. I want to make sure you will be safe doing these tricks."
" I promise Will to do it all. Thank, thank you," said Holokai.
The ride home seemed to go by very fast as they discussed the new job. Suddenly Will had a panicked look on his face. "Holokai, in all the excitement talking to the manager and hurrying to the bus I forgot the socks we bought," said Will.
Holokai very sheepishly fished something out of his pocket. "But Will, look what I still have."

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What A Show

Chapter Five:Will he ever learn?
Will quickly set his purchases down on the counter and ran to front of the store. By now a crowd had gathered outside the window display and inside. An artificial tree was being used as the display with socks of every size, color and pattern hanging from the branches. Way-way up at the top was Holokai hanging on to one of the branches and waving to the crowd. The more the crowd laughed and clapped the braver he got swinging from branch to branch performing tricks for all. He was putting on quite a show and Will couldn't help himself from laughing at this sight. But a manager nearby was not in any laughing mood.
"Get that monkey down and I mean right now!" he shouted. "He is ruining the display and look at all those socks on the floor!"
Several employees nearby were discussing just how to do this when Will came to the rescue. "Holokai, get down right now before you cause any more trouble,"said Will trying to sound mad.
"But Will, do I have to? You know how I just love to climb trees! Besides look what I found... monkey socks!"
Holokai waved the socks so Will could get a better look. "Holokai, you must come down right now!" Will yelled.
Holokai waved again to the crowd and scrambled down the tree. He was still clutching the monkey socks. The manager turned to Will and scolded him for not keeping a better eye on Holokai while in the store. Will offered to fix the display but the manger waved him off. Several onlookers came over to the manager and inquired when the next show would be and how funny the monkey was doing this ricks. Some asked where in the store could they find monkey socks.
Will paid for their purchases and checked his watch. "Holokai we have to hurry. Rocky Socky will be at the bus stop soon," said Will.
Just as they headed for the door they heard the manager yell,"Stop, wait a minute!"

All Rights Reserved
Ready 2010
FYI: Parts of this story are based an actual experience when I once had a inquisitive preschooler. We were out shopping in a mall and he found a secret door in a store and jumped into the window display case.

  • 1/2 can ( 8oz.) vegetarian fat free refried beans
  • 1-160z. Chunky Salsa mild or hot
  • 1 TB. chili powder
  • 2 LBS. ground beef
  • 2 cups Marble Jack cheese
  • 1 cup green onion or yellow finely chopped
  • Brown hamburger with onions and drain
  • In same skillet add salsa mixture, refried beans, cheese and chili powder
  • Simmer over low heat stirring mixture
  • Do not cover since mixture should not become too watery
To serve:
  • Heat soft shell burritos in foil at 375 for about 15 minutes or until warm
  • For each serving in center of burrito add meat mixture, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole and fold over

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More Trouble

Chapter Four: The Sock Mart
Holokai wasted no time telling Rocky Socky all about their troubles at The Sock Bank and going to Sock Security Station. "Will, are you sure about another stop? Holokai can ride with me till I finish the rest of my runs. He does seem to get a bit excited doing so many new things and can get rambunctious at times."
"Holokai will be just fine with me. He really wants to find some socks just his size to keep his feet warm. I saw an ad in the newspaper that said The Sock Mart was having a holiday sale on Easter socks and a special on bunny slippers. Perhaps I will find something for myself too. We will be ready to catch your last bus run at 4:00," said Will.
As the two got off the bus, Rocky Socky told Holokai in a very stern voice, "Stay close to Will and behave yourself inside the store. Remember no running off and exploring on your own. You are to pay attention to what Will tells you to do and what you can buy."
As the bus sped off Will turned to Holokai, "This is big store and it is easy to get lost. Stay with me and hold my hand tightly."
Holokai could hardly contain his excitement seeing an entire store of socks and sock accessories. It made him almost dizzy with so many things to choose from. Will pushed through the crowd and headed to the infant department. "But Will, this is just for babies," whined Holokai.
"Look, these socks are just your size. You have very small feettttttttttt."
But just as Will finished saying feet Holokai let go of his hand was off and running toward the sock table marked Sale. "Will, look at these socks that have palm trees on them. Look, at the rubber duckies. Look at footballs! Look at bunny ones! I want this one! And I want those! And I have to have that pair!"
"Stop," shouted Will. "You can only get a few pair. Let's say four."
But it was too late. Holokai was already climbing up on the sale table, standing in the middle and grabbing a large armload of socks. But now he was making a mess spilling socks all over the floor. Holokai began shouting, "Will, I just have to these. Please, please, please can I have them?"
Before Will was even able to reply Holokai jumped off the table. He ran off toward the bunny slipper display. He was just wiggling his feet into one of the furry pink slippers when Will grabbed him by the shirt. "Look Holokai calm down. We can't buy it all and you are making a mess. I said four and I mean four! And only one pair of slippers!"
So after Holokai finally decided on his purchases they headed toward the cash register. They both thought the line seemed to be moving very slowly. Will checked his watch and turned to tell Holokai the time but wait....Holokai was nowhere in sight. A loud voice came on over the loudspeaker. "Would all security come to the front of the store."
"Oh no!" Will said.
By now a crowd had gathered outside the window of the Sock Mart.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Recently I came across this great quote from Winston Churchill " All the great things are simple and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."
This quote led me to thinking about the word:word and then it led to...
Some words
Get stuck in our throats
And never get out.
Some words
Linger on our lips
Waiting for just the right time to jump .
Some words
Tumble, cascade, fall
Continually moving along.
Some words
Make melodious sounds
It's music to our ears.
Some words
Spill out so fast
If only we could take them back.

The words we speak
Can be positive or negative.
The words we write
Can inspire and challenge.

Words change us
comfort us
And show our emotions.
Words come in different sizes and shapes
Learn a new word today.

My new word of the day is quagmire. When I discovered its meaning I also found quaggy and quaff.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Close Call

Chapter Three: The Rescue
Will, still clutching his own sock and the one Holokai had found, dashed toward the door. Just as he stepped over the threshold an alarm went off which in turn sent other sock security scurrying in different directions. Will sprinted to catch up with the sock security who had a firm grasp on Holokai's arm. They quickly disappeared into the Security Station. As Will pushed open the heavy door he felt someone from behind grab his shirt. " Stop! You have a lot of explaining to do causing all this commotion" said the sock security. "We have rules here at The Sock Bank."
"I can explain everything," said Will taking a deep breath.
By now a very frightened Holokai was shaking as two other sock security stood over him. In between sobs Will heard "But I was only trying to help Will find his sock."
"Look, my little friend Holokai has never been to The Sock Bank before. He doesn't know about any rules and he was just trying to help me. Please let him go," pleaded Will.
So after what seemed a very long lecture the sock security wrote out two citations and handed each of them a piece of paper. "Read this carefully. Both of you are not allowed back here at The Sock Bank for one month. And then when you do return you will have to sign in and get an escort for the time you are inside. Futhermore you will have to return this sock that has a tag on back to me."
Will reluctantly handed over the one sock, disappointed to give up the matching mate Holokai was so proud to find.
Back at the bus stop Holokai was still sniffling as they waited for The Sockland Express. "Look Holokai I have an idea. Let's go to The Sock Mart at the mall. I read they are having a holiday special on socks. I am sure there will be something just your size there. Perhaps we might even get lucky and find some bunny slippers I saw as an advertised special," said Will trying to cheer him up.
Holokai sat up a little straighter and a smile curved across his face. He was tired of wearing his sandals from Maui and did wish for something warm for his feet.
The Sockland Express Bus was right on time. As Rocky Socky opened the door he knew something was wrong.

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday. Perhaps you will get lucky and find a new pair of socks in your basket!

Till My Last Breath

“Till My Last Breath” is a historical romance western genre. It employs a time travel element which sets it apart from usual western themed ...