Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Open to Zipping off on a Bike

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Millie and Willie are up for zipping off on new adventures - any mode of transportation will do!
Millie:  Well, we finally have some spring time weather. The snow is melting. The trails are clearing off, and the open road awaits.
Willie:  There's just something about packing my bag, loading my gear, and hitting the road that gets my heart beating a little faster.
Millie:  I wonder how far and wide we'll go this year, Willie?
Willie:  This past March, when I was blowing out all 65 candles on my birthday cake, I wished that for whatever time we can hang together, Millie, that we'll always have new adventures.
Millie:  For an old pair, we do get around, don't we?
Willie:  Millie, when we celebrate your 70th birthday this summer, I want you to feel like you're on top of the world.
Millie:  Well, then, let's get pedaling.
Willie:  Wooo Hooo!
(Starts whistling I've been working on the railroad.)
Millie:  Oh, for Heaven's sake. (rolls her eyes, blows him a kiss and whispers.) Don't ever let the adventures end.

Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Write about your dream trip.
That concludes the blogging from A to Z Challenge, April 2013. It has been a wild and wonderful ride! We'll be doing our reflections on the challenge post next week. Thanks for all your reading, writing, and connecting!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Open to Youthful Events (and cake)

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Millie and Willie attend the twins' birthday party, double the fun, double the guests, double the cake.
Anyone else thinking of the old Double Mint Gum commercial?
Millie:  Willie, aren't you excited? It's the twins' birthday.
Willie:  Yes. That means double the cake!
Millie:  And, a loud and boisterous Happy Birthday.
Willie:  Do you think those young fellers would teach me how to play that video game contraption?
Millie:  I'll need to triple the pancake batter for breakfast.
Willie:  Mmm. Pancakes. Are we going to share our freshly tapped and cooked Maple syrup?
Millie:  You know we are, Willie. It's for the kids. And, some of them helped collect sap.
(After the party festivities wound down and all the boys went home to sleep in their own beds, Millie and Willie attended a local production of The Glass Menagerie.)
Willie:  That was just as good as anything I've seen at The Guthrie in Minneapolis.
Millie:  I am astounded by the talent right here in the Brainerd lakes area.
Willie:  That woman who played Amanda, Laura Busch, could have been my mother, Millie. She wasn't a Southern Bell, but she did have a command of the family, if you know what I mean.
Millie:  Yes, Willie, that is the most memorable characteristic of your mother. I was quite taken with Tom, of course. He told his story with love and sentiment. Kevin Yeager is a fine actor, indeed. Maybe he'll be in a show with us some day.
Willie:  That young Linda Nichols might as well apply to the University acting school right now. She could audition at any of the theatres in the metro.  She was so believable as shy, young Laura that I wanted to walk right on stage and hug her and give her some courage to face the world head on.
Millie:  (chuckling) The costume designer deserves an A+ for all the great outfits, especially Amanda's party dress. What a hoot!
(Millie and Willie go to bed ruminating on the themes of the play, loss of youth, or the clinging to it and the past, as they rest up for Sunday's music recital.)
Millie and Willie play a little something during refreshments after the recital.
Millie:  They were all so good, Willie. I want to applaud one more time.
Willie:  They are all so brave to get up on that bench and play their songs, or sing in front of all these people.
Millie:  Music lessons and recitals build character, Willie.
Willie:  And, confidence. I didn't have nearly that much confidence when I was young. I could barely raise my hand in class to ask a question.
Millie:  I love people who support the arts.
Willie:  I love all those kids, and their teachers. Music teachers are the best.
Millie:  They create good things.
Willie:  Amen, Millie.
Spring Piano and Voice Recital at Edgewood Vista in Brainerd, MN
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  How have you supported the arts lately? Anyone else have a birthday? My babies turned 13 today! Now, I am a mother of four teenage boys. (send help)


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cheese, Tomato, and Herb Twists

Secret Recipe Club

Well, another month has rolled around, and it is time for another round of the secret recipe club.  This month I was assigned a fun blog called, The More Than Occasional Baker written by Ros.  Ros has a love for baked goodies, both sweet and savory, and enjoys participating in cooking challenges.

I really enjoyed looking through the many different posts at The More Than Occasional Baker.  There is a wide variety of delicious recipes to choose from.  I was drawn to all 30 of the recipes made with peanut butter  because it has been a while since I have tried anything new with the husband's favorite ingredient, but in the end practicality and time won out.  I chose these tasty Cheese, Tomato, and Herb Twists because I needed an easy and tasty side dish to serve with dinner one night.  I had all the ingredients on hand and was able to whip these babies out in no time flat.

Honestly, I was a little worried about how these would turn out.  I'm not 100% sure, but, based on the spelling on The More Than Occasional Baker blog, Ros if from the UK or Australia.  I wasn't sure that what I thought "tomato puree" was would be the same thing that Ros used in the original recipe.  But, either way, the final product we delicious!  I added a little bit of chopped roasted garlic to my twists, and a pinch of salt.  My children devoured them.  They were great as a side for our pasta, as well as a tasty snack later in the evening.  ENJOY!!

Cheese, Tomato, and Herb Twists
Recipe Source: The More Than Occasional Baker

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 small can of high quality tomato paste
1/2-1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
dried Italian herbs
roasted garlic (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 425 F.

Roll out one sheet of puff pastry on a floured counter or baking sheet.  Brush it with the beaten egg.  Turn it over and spread a layer of tomato paste.

Sprinkle a layer of cheese, dried herbs, pepper and roasted garlic.

Cut the dough into strips, twist the ends and place back on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10-18 minutes depending on the size of your twists.

My Eating Machine

Beau throws his books in first, and then hops up in the Suburban.  I notice his red shorts and how far they rest above his knees. Hmmmm.....probably getting a little embarrassing.

As we pull out of the middle school I ask him what his homework looks like for the weekend. He gives me the run-down and it seems like a lot.  It can wait though.

"Are you hungry?" I ask.
His eyes light up.  It's like I just asked him if he would like to spend the day at Disneyland.  It's happened once before, so he knows this question could potentially lead to the Arby's drive-thru.

He's not wrong.  I'm not exactly a fast food person, but Arby's seems to have a way of saying, "I think you're special" to this growing boy like nothing else.

He is my eating machine.
Calories cannot run fast enough from his voracious appetite.

My eyes grow wide as his cheddar beef sandwich goes down in about six bites, disappearing somewhere into his disproportionally large, pubescent knees.

"Can I eat that?" he asks my two-year-old.  She clutches her sandwich, making it clear that it's hers, and he goes back to his root beer. 

We hop out of the car and walk to the nearby clothing store.  Time to add a little more length to those shorts.

After ten minutes, the store employee scans the new clothes he's already wearing and we head out the door.

We stop to pick up the elementary school kids on the way home, then hang out in the yard until Dad comes up the driveway.

I can't believe how fast this boy is growing.

I love who he is and who he is becoming.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Open to X-ing

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

You can X something out and eat it, too!
Willie:  I get excited about the X.
Millie:  How's that?
Willie:  You know, all those railroad X-ings.
Millie:  Haha, of course. You and your trains have crossed many paths.
Willie:  As I sat on that train mile after mile, watching the landscape change, I thought of all the ways we can travel, all the sights we can see, all the roads that lead somewhere.
Millie:  The difference a choice can make. Turn left and go one way. Turn right and go another.
Willie:  Millie, there is really no limit to the possibilities.
Millie:  The only limitations are ourselves.
Willie:  What do you say we take an adventure?
Millie:  I'll get my purse.
Willie:  I think we should start with a visit to the yogurt shop.  I'll give you all my Hot Tamales.
Millie:  Willie, you're so good to me.

Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Write about a time where you needed to choose a path. Or, take a new path in the near future and write about that journey!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Open to Wonder

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

A late April snow, melt, and more snow, created these icicles that look like lace.
Willie:  I wonder why some years we have winter that never seems to end, and other years, like last year, we had early spring.
Millie:  I wonder if my tulips will be up before the 4th of July!
Willie:  I wonder how the ice and snow could melt in such a way as to create icicles that look like lace.
Millie:  I wonder what the neighbors thought when you went outside in your bathrobe and boots to take this picture.
Willie:  I wonder if a shooting star grants a better wish.
Millie:  I wonder why I can't sleep as well when it's a full moon.
Willie:  I wonder who wrote I've been working on the railroad?
Millie:  I wonder if anyone else has heard it as many times as I have.
Willie:  I wonder if Albert Einstein got his best ideas in the bathtub.
Millie:  I wonder if soaking in the tub will wash away these winter blues and give me some inspiration.
Willie:  I wonder if you'd like me to draw you a bath, my darling.
Millie soaking in a tub of warm water.
Millie:  I wonder if you'd join me.
Millie and Willie spend the rest of the evening washing each other's feet and singing, I've been working on the Railroad.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What do you wonder about?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Open to Variety

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Millie and Willie enjoy the scent of a Verbena candle while reading the Variety section of the newspaper and vying for pet Leo's attention.
Leo was very tired after pulling an all-nighter on Monday night. He was rather vulnerable out in the elements, and slept for two days before he got back his vim and verve.
While Millie's true gift is a dog whisperer, she was able to offer comfort to Leo the cat as well.
Willie:  Variety is the spice of life, Millie.
Millie:  What spice would that be? Salt or crushed red peppers?
Willie: Both, all of them. Salt is the constant, like knowing that you're always there, Millie. It's in everything, and if it wasn't there, life would be bland. Sometimes, though, a recipe calls for a little crushed red pepper or cayenne.
Millie:  You mean, sometimes you want to add a little heat, like when I filled my mouth with hot tamales and my tongue felt like it was on fire.
Willie:  We laughed about it, right?
Millie:  Yes (chuckles)
Willie:  And, you remember it.
Millie:  Of course, it was a silly thing to do.
Willie:  Silly ain't a bad thing, Millie. Sometimes, we have to through off old ways of thinking and doing, and add a little spice.
Millie:  (smiles) Like taking a leisurely bath in the morning and burning a candle with a new scent, and then go out for coffee in the evening.
Willie:  Well, only if it's decaf. Let's not get carried away.
Millie:  (taps her big toe on Willie's big toe) How about chocolate cake for breakfast? With ice cream, of course.
Willie:  Now, we're talking.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Do something out of the ordinary, that goes against the social mores you were taught, live it, then write about it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Open Up

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi

(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Millie and Willie visit the Fancy Pants Chocolate Store in Brainerd, MN and Open Up a bag of chocolates
Willie:  Mmm. Millie, good choice. These chocolate covered potato chips are scrumptious.
Millie:  I'm eyeing the sea salt caramels. They're my favorite.
Willie:  A walk uptown with you, a stop at the candy store, and a chance to talk. That's all I need for a sweet date with you, Millie.
Millie:  I'm in utter bliss.
Willie:  It's an unusually mild night. What do you say we wander down to the river and watch the sun set?
Millie:  Unbelievably gorgeous.
Willie:  Just like you darling.

(Millie and Willie walk back home, under the stars, their path lit by a full moon, where they open up to each other about their hopes and fears.)

Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What's your favorite sweet treat? Where's the best place for you to open up to someone in a conversation?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


If you've ever read this popular book,

you may have considered creating your OWN Pinkalicious day.  Okay, probably not.  BUT, if someday you ever WANTED to create your own Pinkalicious day, here's a how-to:

 1.  Leave the pink stamp pad out where your two-year-old can easily find it.

 2.  After she finds it, allow her to proudly show you just how pink she really is.  Everywhere.

3.  Clean up.  The sink won't cut it.  Just head straight for the bathtub.

And finally, be SO thankful that you took the time to record this little moment.  Because someday your little girl will be too grown up to cuddle in your lap with Pinkalicious.

Open to Teamwork

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi

(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Willie and Millie joined the team to make sausage.
Everything was going great until the sausage drying line broke.
Willie:  Quick, Millie, grab the other end. We don't want to lose any meat.
Millie:  I'm a little disoriented, Willie. Which end is up?
Voice:  Are these sausages?
Willie:  No, no. Don't eat us. We're sock puppets.
Millie:  Sausages don't wear cloths. 
Willie:  Whew. We got it back up. Now, who's turn is it working the sausage stuffer?
Millie:  I'll crank. You stuff. We've got Phil on the grinder. Andy's got his hands in the tub, mixing a new recipe. Joy has the food saver humming along sealing bags of breakfast sausage. Ma's getting more food ready. Sandy's cleaning. Nathan is supervising.
Willie:  It takes teamwork to prepare all this sausage.
Millie and Willie are feeling grateful that they're not hanging inside this home made smoker.
Millie:  I'm ready for a taste test, Willie. Fire up the grill!
Willie:  The Biker Chef's Maple syrup makes the sweetest breakfast sausage.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Have you ever made home made sausage? What does your family make together?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oven Roasted Baby Back Pork Ribs with Fennel and Herbs (Costine di Maiale con finocchio e erbe aromatiche)

These Ribs are quite fragrant while cooking.  In the time it takes to have a cocktail and set the table, they are ready.  I had planned on making these outside, but when the weather turned rainy, it was time for plan B.  Enjoy.
Place your ribs in a zip lock with a cup of  white wine and herbs.  You may use red wine if that's what's on hand.  Just use whatever it is you are going to serve. 
 Move the wine around the bag and all over the ribs.  Gently lay the bag in the refrigerator on a plate for 2 hours.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator and let rest 30 minutes before you are planning on making this dish.
One rack of Baby Back Pork ribs
One deep roasting pan large enough to accommodate your ingredients
2 teaspoons  salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
2 tablespoons if olive oil
One small fennel bulb
2  large carrots cut up
One clove of garlic
One cup of white wine
2 sprigs  of thyme
2 rosemary sprigs

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Gently remove your ribs from the bag.  Discard your liquid. Reserve your herbs.
 Split your garlic and rub your ribs on both sides with garlic.  Salt and pepper your Ribs on both sides.
 Cut up your vegetables and toss. Lay your vegetables  in a roasting pan.  Lay your Ribs right on top of your vegetables.  Add some potatoes cut up to about the same size if you like.
Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for one hour.  Make adjustments for convection cooking .
Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
To serve, just cut apart the ribs and serve with your roasted vegetables. 

Wine suggestion?  Any light, dry red will do.  Enjoy!
Buon  Appetito! .

Quick Lentil Soup (Pink Lentils or Red Lentils)

This is what happens when you send your husband (without a list),  to the grocery.  He comes home with the most interesting  things.  He had read about these pink lentils and wanted to give them a try.    These lentils are skinless.  They require a quick rinse and into the pan they go.  The best part, they cook up fast.  High in Protein, it's the perfect substitute,  when you are craving a meatless dish.   I had used them in the previous weeks just like this. I had a little over a cup remaining in the pantry and with all this broth to use up, why not?
Recipe:  3 tablespoons Olive oil
One 5 quart (deep) pot (to accommodate the lentil soup)
1teaspoons salt
1/2 cup of white wine
5 large cloves of garlic ( cut in half pieces large enough to remove them later).
About 4  cups of broth to cover your lentils while cooking
Method:  Heat your olive oil to medium.  Add your garlic and toss them in your pan to coat. Cook until fragrant.  Quickly add your Lentils as soon as you begin to smell your garlic.  You can either discard your garlic here, before you add your lentils or leave them in the pan and discard later.  I like to leave them throughout the cooking process as it continually adds fabulous flavor to the lentils. 
Add your salt.
Add your wine and let evaporate.  Let it be almost dry before adding your broth.
Add your broth to cover by several inches.  Simmer and cook for 20 minutes or so.  Your liquid will be reduced by half and your lentils will plump up.  You will notice a color change too.  These lentils are actually yellowish when cooked. 
Serve with pieces of toasted Baguette slices that have been smothered in garlic right from your cooking liquid.
Thyme and parsley are wonderful herbs to add in this dish.
Keep Simmering away until you can see your Lentils. 
Remove your Garlic pieces before serving.  Ladle into Bowls and Serve.  Buon Appetito!

The Best Chicken Broth (Oven Method)

As a little girl, I remember my mother and I watching the PBS cooking show, The Frugal Gourmet.  On every afternoon, during the week. (My Mother liked to watch to learn English).
Jeff Smith, was an interesting character in his approach to cooking.  I recall how fascinating it was to watch him work his magic on the kitchen.  Thankfully, I was paying attention. His methods for cooking a deep, rich,  broth was quite inspiring.  Use the same method when making Beef or Veal stock. Oven Roasting first, give "Character" to a soup,  great color, flavor and richness.  Great for using in recipes all week long.  You can freeze it for later use too. 
Place your cleaned, dried, chicken parts in a roasting pan. Add any vegetables you like to use .   Here is what I used:
Preheat ur oven to 500 low broil.  If u don't have low broil, try 400 broil, but keep a watchful eye on it, u don't want it to blacken. 
4 chicken legs with half the skin removed
I large  red onion
2 large carrots
1 large stalk celery
Bouquet of various fresh herbs tied together
I used parsley and celery leaves
5 small red potatoes
Place in a preheated, 500 degree oven and hit the broil button .  Leave in the oven a good 10 minutes , being  careful not to burn .   Leave until everything is shiny and golden some, not blackened.  Depending on your oven, it might take a little longer .

Place  a large soup pot on the stove.  Drain your chicken and vegetables and place directly in the pot.   Add 1 teaspoon salt.  Add water to cover.  You should cover your ingredients with water by a good 3 inches or so.  Bring to a simmer. After about 2 hours, it's ready.  You will see a deep, rich, dark golden color.  Let cool and store away for future use in your freezer. Reserve your chicken meat to use in a salad for a light supper, tossed with olive oil and garlic and parsley.
I had another motive.  A bowl of chicken soup for lunch!  Who could resist?  Buon appetito!

Zuppa Di Pesce (Italian Fish Soup)

This is a great dish that varies by region in Italy. My version is a blend of two regions, Lazio and Campagna. Since I am married to a Roman and my Father was from Amalfi, it all makes perfect sense.
Traditionally a soup invented by Fishmongers, whom by the end of a work day, might have some fish leftover, that they did not sell during the day. .  Letting nothing go to waste, it would come home with them for supper.  Zuppa  Di pesce  was born.  This hearty,  fish soup, serves 4.  Use your fork to remove the goodness from inside the shells.  Yes, your hands will get dirty from dipping some bread right into the soup.  Who could resist? Enjoy!  A light, Pinot Grigio is perfect accompaniment .
8 ounces baby clams
8 ounces mussels
8 ounces squid
12 ounces cod filets or any thick filet such as monkfish or Boston Scrod.  (They don't have to be expensive).
1/2 cup diced Spanish onion
2 cloves of garlic diced
3 tablespoons olive oil plus one tablespoon for later in the recipe when you are adding your onions to the pan.
One heavy 8 qt Dutch oven
Tablespoon tomato paste 
2 cups diced tomato ( puréed in the blender
One cup of  dry white wine
3 cups of water or Fish stock (Homemade, made with shells of Shrimp, crab, etc., brought to a boil and strained through a sieve).
2 teaspoons salt
One teaspoon pepper
One teaspoon red pepper flakes
Or one chili pepper, scraped
Heat your oil in  your Dutch oven.  When your oil is hot, cook your squid until opaque, in about 5 or 6 minutes.  Turning them gently, once or twice.  (All fish cooks at a different rate.  It's not good to throw everything into the pot at once. You will end up with a rubbery result that will not be edible.  Fish is tricky and requries patience).
 About 5-6 minutes.  Remove from pan. Add your mussels and after a few minutes your  clams and cook until clams and mussels  fully open in About 6-7 minutes.  Add your wine and a pinch of salt.  Your chili pepper or red pepper flakes. Let evaporate until about a 1/3 of the liquid is left in the pan and all your shells are open.

Remove from pan and drain your remaining liquid.and reserve with your clams and squid.  Add one tablespoon more olive oil and heat.  Add your onions and garlic.  Cook until fragrant and slighlty golden, being careful not to burn.  At this point, when your oil is hot, add your paste, sauté for a few minutes, then add your tomatoes  and cook . Cook until your liquid reduces some, about 6-8 minutes..  Add your fish back to the Pan and mix.  Add your water and mix again.  At this point add your filets of Cod.  Do not cut them up.

You don't want it to disintegrate while cooking. It is absolutely wrong to cut them into chunks.   You just want it to seperate in your cooking liquid. Submerge than gently and give them mix. 
Cook for approximately 10-12  minutes more on low-medium heat.  Your fish filets will break away gently on their own.  Your liquid will thicken some too.  Approximate cooking time is about 30 minutes from start to finish.

This is one of those dishes that can be quite intimidating to make.  When you taste how good this is, you will make it again and again.
 Timing is everything. I have always ordered this in a restaurant, thinking its just to tedious to make.  Not true, just takes determination.  Traditionally served over crusty , bread pieces, it's hard to pass up.  Buon appetito!
Special Note:  If you are using Frozen products, such as clams in water, mussels, cod, etc. Be sure to look for products that are frozen in their natural state and are preserved as naturally as possible.  This can be tricky, but not impossible.    Always rinse off their liquid.  There are many good quality,frozen seafood products out there.  Yes, fresh is always best and the way they make this in Italy.  Don't  give up hope.   If these items are not available to you fresh.  It still may be worth  a try.  The result may surprise you.  Buon Appetito!

Open a Songbook - Review of Broadway Songbook at The Ordway in St. Paul, MN

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's
A to Z Challenge
 is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. 
The Cottonpolys enjoy all types of entertainment. I am an entertainment reviewer, and they have started to accompany me to events. Since I'm still in the A to Z Challenge and the Cottonpolys have taken over blogging, I'll let them tell you the highlights of The Broadway Songbook at The Ordway Performing Arts Center in St. Paul, MN.

Willie and Millie Cottonpoly enjoyed a slice of Galaxy cake at Great Waters Brewing Co. before attending The Broadway Songbook at The Ordway.
Willie:  It was out of this world delicious!
The Broadway Songbook is an ongoing series at The Ordway Performing Arts Center in St. Paul, MN. April 19-28, they are featuring the music of Cole Porter. 
As the first strains of music ripple through the air...
Willie:  (sits up a little straighter in his seat and whispers to Millie) Let's Misbehave. (chuckles)
Millie:  I think that song sums up Cole Porter's attitude towards life and writing music.
Willie:  (doing a little toe tapping in his seat) Mine too.
Millie:  (quietly sings along to the next song) Let's do it. Let's fall in love. (leans a little closer to Willie) That's the song that was running through my mind while we were courting.
Willie:  I like this one about Cherry Pies.
Millie:  It's a cute one.
Willie:  (singing along) You're the icing they put on my cake. (gives Millie a little squeeze)
Millie:  It's DeLovely
Willie:  It's delicious.
Millie:  It's delightful.
Willie:  It's delirious.
Millie:  These performers really bring Cole Porter's songs to life.
Willie:  Ain't bad to look at either.
Millie:  Don't get distracted by all the glitter and glitz, it's their voices and performance that tell the story of these songs.
Willie:  I like all those food songs.
Millie:  What?
Willie:  You're the top...you're a Waldorf salad.
Millie:  (smiling)
Willie:  You're sublime. You're a turkey dinner.
Millie:  That Cole Porter was a good lyricist.
Willie:  You're the top. You're a dance in Bali. You're the top. You're a hot tamale!
Millie:  Willie, shh. (smiles)
Willie:  You're Lady Astor. You're broccoli. Huh? That one could go either way.
Millie:  No romance is perfect. Sometimes it's Hot Tamales. Sometimes it's broccoli.
Willie:  What are your favorite Cole Porter songs, Millie?
Millie:  I have two. I love the sound of So in Love, the words are all about how deep in love he is, but with a melody that haunts. Night and Day is a beautiful marriage of words and melody.
Willie:  Those lyrics about it being only you beneath the moon or under the sun, whether near to me or far... I think of you. That's our song, Darling.
Millie:  (nods) I hope everyone feels so in love when they go to this performance. It's wunderbar!
Go. Create. Inspire!
The Broadway Songbook featuring the music of Cole Porter is at The Ordway April 19-28. Followed soon by a production of Anything Goes, May 7-12. Millie and Willie Cottonpoly already have it marked on their calendar! Go to The Ordway for more info. and to buy your tickets!
Journaling Prompt:  What songs bring out the romance in you? What songs were playing when you fell in love?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mud Soup

Lyla spent most of Tuesday whining and yelling at me.
She was sick.
So was I.

It was hard to remain on the effective side of parenting.  I admit, most of the day I failed, employing such strategies as reasoning with my two-year-old, bargaining with my five-year-old, and lecturing my twelve-year-old.

It was 5:30pm when the kids started playing The Hungry Games.  I looked at the kitchen.  Then, the couch. Then, I looked at the kitchen again.  And chose the couch.
I then resorted to even more effectiveness by waving my non-magical fingers in the air and asking the kitchen to make dinner.

Somewhere in Lyla's two-year-old mind, she must have rolled her eyes at my pathetic take on reality and took her resourcefulness outside to make mud soup.

The organic variety.

That was the low point of my day.  I knew I could find renewal in the scriptures so with one eye on the backyard soup kitchen, I opened up to where I last read in the Book of Mormon.
And, no kidding, THIS was where I left off the night before-

For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the (child) of her womb?  Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee...  
1 Nephi 21:15
I laughed to myself.  Really?  

My attention turned to the apparently forgotten child in the backyard.  She was stirring dandelions around in the mud with a big stick.

I smiled.  Really.

I had gone to the scriptures seeking comfort and strength.  I found humor.  Which was exactly what I needed.

A refreshing ten minutes later, I was finally standing in the kitchen preparing dinner.

The backdoor opened and in walked Lyla.  Muddy boots.  Muddy hands.  And a face smudged with dirt.  Instead of the exasperated look I may have given her earlier, I smiled, grabbed a wet wipe, and began tenderly wiping away the dirt.

It's good to smile.

Open a Review of Nice Fish at the Guthrie in Minneapolis, MN

Quote of the Month: Open the window in the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out. Rumi
(My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is Open.)

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, a sock puppet creation, are here to tell you their story during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. This is a slightly unconventional review since I'm in the middle of the A to Z challenge and Millie and Willie have taken over blogging. Today is R day. R is for Review of Nice Fish at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. They did enjoy the show, which in itself is unconventional as it is told for the most part through poetry. Take it away Mr. and Mrs. Cottonpoly.

Millie and Willie Cottonpoly throw caution to the wind and ride the winter storm from Brainerd to Minneapolis to view and review, Nice Fish, written by Mark Rylance, Louis Jenkins, and friends.
Millie:  Uff, Willie, wasn't that a hoot?
Willie:  I felt like I was out on the ice with them fellers.
Millie:  I know. I've done my own share of philosophizing, staring into that hole. Wasn't it funny when Ron dropped his cellphone into the water? I wonder how many of those things are at the bottom of the lakes of Minnesota.
Willie:  How do you even work those contraptions?
Millie:  Some people like to have all the latest gadgets and technology, even out on the ice, like that character Erik.
Willie:  I'm a simple man, like Ron. All's I need is a sturdy rod, fresh bait, and a good sandwich.
Millie:  That bit about the bologna sandwich made me giggle.
Willie:  I thought Freya, also called Flo or Blossom, was enchanting.
Millie:  mmm hmmm. I think your eyes lit up even more when Wayne rode in on that old snowmobile.
Willie:  Snow Jet one lunger. They roared her to life with one pull, just like my old one, Millie. She was sweet.
Millie:  Yes, well. The actors were stunning, especially the main characters Erik, played by Jim Lichtscheidl, and the playwright himself Mark Rylance who was charming as the never in a hurry, keep it simple, Ron.
Willie:  (humming a polka) That music got my toe tapping. The minute I walked in, I felt like I was back in my home town.  The Norwegian fiddler, singer, and dancing were pretty good, too, you know.
Millie:  If you're from Minnesota, you will connect to many things in this play. If you're not, you'll get a sampling of the folks who live up here and what they think about while out fishin'. Good fun for the whole family.
Willie:  I thought Freya was enchanting.
Millie:  (rolls eyes) I'm going to take a nap, now, so I'm fresh for tonight's review of The Broadway Songbook at the Ordway.  I sure hope the roads have improved and we don't get another six inches of snow tonight!
Millie, The Biker Chef, and Willie attended Nice Fish with reviewer Mary Aalgaard.
Willie and Millie are ready for their audition at The Guthrie.
Don't you think they look great in this line-up of fine actors?
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What are some unique things about the people and places where you live? Any fun sayings?
Nice Fish is playing at The Guthrie through May 18. Click over there for more info, photos of the show, tickets and show times!