Picnic Game 2013

Welcome to the Picnic Game 2013!  Hold on, wait a minute…


Before you spread out your blanket and start fixing your plate, let’s give credit where credit is due.  Many thanks to our event coordinator and hostess supreme, Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations.  Be sure to visit her, and all of the other food-fixin’ bloggers.

Now, let’s get started.

I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…

Aloo Gobi courtesy of Mae

Aloo Gobi courtesy of Mae

… Aloo Gobi, made by Mae


Blueberry-Cucumber Salsa!


I was inspired by Budget Gourmet Mom’s Cucumber, Blueberry and Mint Salsa recipe, but since I had the letter “B” for the picnic game, I needed to rename it.  And since we don’t stock agave nectar, the substitutions began.

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup English cucumber, chopped (blueberry sized pieces?)

1/2 tablespoon local blueberry honey

1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

3 roughly chopped mint leaves

Toss berries and cucumber.  Drizzle honey and lime juice on top, then gently fold in mint.  Serve with whatever you have in the pantry that suits you.

UntitledSissy and Gg had Pretzel Crisps.  (No corn)  I had regular Wheat Thins.  I liked the Wheat Thins better.  It would be great to tote to any picnic or poolside, or even on a hike, as nothing in the dish is particularly perishable.  As Louise was kind enough to invite the fur-girls, I wanted to bring something they could eat and their human friends might enjoy too.  The Knight wouldn’t try it, but he doesn’t like blueberries or honey very much, so…  he got a pass this time.

What’s your favorite picnic recipe?

Any picnic plans with the 4th of July right around the corner?

Thunderstorm Thorsday

Happy Thorsday, little friday and thankful Thursday.  I must be old.  I see to do nothing but complain about the weather of late, and in my mind, that’s something the silver-hairs rocking on their front porches do.  First, winter came late and wouldn’t leave.  Then, a few days here and there aside, we had no spring and went straight to deep summer…


Thinking cool, muddy thoughts

I’d intended to tell you about the new cooling harness/vest the Knight bought for Sissy.  She loves it, and Gg has asked for one, but we’re in negotiations, as we worry that with her little body (and thus, smaller blood volume) and very thin coat, it might be too much for her.  But, I failed to get photos due to the storms yesterday, and frankly, I don’t even know the name of said product.

The girls have sent a thank you to the Lapdog pack for their yummy treat samples.  It means a lot to me that our friends are aware of Sissy’s dietary restrictions and send us new goodies to try.  There’s a thankful… both for good people who care about our sweet fur-girls and for the heighted awareness of what makes for quality treats by pet product manufacturers.

I’m also quite grateful for AC that works.  We had some serious storms yesterday, and one friend’s office lost power yesterday and still doesn’t have AC.   How’s the weather where you are?

Leadership Quotes

I’ve spoken of my love of quotes before.  I’m blessed to be surrounded by some women who share my fondness for a well-turned phrase.  Since I’m in a mood – read: unable to compose a  coherent post – I thought I’d share a few of the surprises from the JLC board and leadership retreats.  I offered up a few “transition and change” quotes one of my favorite conference facilitators had put together in a presentation, and challenged the women to bring their own quotes too.   Some were quite new to me, and others were old friends whose broad shoulders have steadied me – or urged me to do better – before.

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Gotta’ love Dumbledore.   Talk about wisdom personified!

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.                                    —Rosalynn Carter

I used that quote on the hang tags on the gifts I gave to last year’s board.  They are indeed great leaders, and the JLC moved forward leaps and bounds because of their courage and vision.

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.                       ― Ronald Reagan

That’s a personal favorite, albeit new to me.  I’m impressed that it comes from a man, since generally, women have a more collaborative style of leadership than men do.

Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.                                                                   — General George Patton

Not long ago at all, I don’t know that I would have “owned” that one, but over the past couple of years, I’ve come to embrace my administrative talents, my own leadership style and just who I am.  I’m generally content to follow someone else… but if you’re an inept leader…  the odds are good that if I cannot help you become a more effective leader, I’m going to just take over.  

When I was younger, I cut straight to the take over phase, but I’d like to think now that I’m able to try to guide and mentor before I can’t stand it anymore.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face….You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”                                                                                                                ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Of course, no quotes list would be complete without that original Junior Leaguer, perhaps the first Leaguer in the White House…  I do adore Mrs. Roosevelt.

518Df9uT76L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Did you know Jeanne Cooper was a Junior Leaguer?  Basically Blogless Susan teased me with that nugget, so her memoir awaits…  I might start it this evening. 

Do you like biographies? 

What might you do that you think you cannot?

(And who would have thought that I’d tag a post with both JLC and Harry Potter?!)

Put Books Back…

on the shelves for the children of the Black Forest Fire.


I’m pretty sure I’ve never been so proud to be a Junior Leaguer.  If you haven’t already donated to support the wildfire victims, please consider making a donation here.  You can click over for more information, but the gist of it is that you can choose the age group, type of book, amount of your donation, etc., and two separate organizations will do a partial matching donation.

I wrote earlier about how this fire – the second to impact the Colorado Springs area in two consecutive years – is personal to me, and I’m delighted but not surprised that my enterprising sisters in the JLCS quickly got to work to help their neighbors heal.  It’s so like a Junior League leader to gloss over my requests for information about how her membership is weathering the fire storm and instead, point to their new project that will surely go a long way to improving their community.

And isn’t their banner beautiful?  The fonts, the pages turned to make a heart… to the blackened tree front and center…  Talented, resourceful, compassionate women.  We are the Junior League.


Technical Advice Needed

969661_10151448398547869_1394913609_nSo…  I even have a draft in progress to share some of our sweet little JLC history book with you, but I’m having serious technical difficulties.  It’s a pdf file, and while I can save entire screen shots, they won’t transfer into (onto?) the blog!  Please tell me how to share it with you.  I tried taking photos of the pages I wanted to share on my huge work monitor, but those are some of the photos that won’t upload to Flickr.

How was your weekend?  I did a lot of reading.  I’m now up to book #14 in the Annie’s Attic series.


Technology Fail

I have 10 photos – or multiples of about 4 photos? – that Flickr’s i-Stuff app just won’t load.   But never fear…  Flickr’s inability to play well with Verizon’s varying signal strength or whatever the problem is won’t stop me from sharing my good Wednesday mail day with you.

Courtesy of TSoV

Courtesy of TSoV

The real surprise was my paw bangle from Three Scoops of Vanilla.  I ordered it IMMEDIATELY, as soon as I saw more were available.   I had to visit said Facebook listing to get the photo, but y’all needed to see this!   I discovered Three Scoops of Vanilla when she did a fundraiser for Blind Dog Rescue Alliance and I scored my beloved browns/creams/aubergine beaded bracelet, and she has a great special every Monday, which you can find on her website or on Facebook.

Now, the surprise wasn’t that it’s gorgeous… see above… I already knew I loved her work.  The surprise was because I kinda’ forgot that I ordered it via Paypal, which means that it came to the Knight.  He opened it and laughed, “This isn’t for me.”   I had told him that he’d bought me a bracelet, but evidently, neither of us were expecting it so quickly.

Courtesy of DbK

Courtesy of DbK

The other package was just as delightful.  Krystle dyed yarn last year for a few of us doing a mystery KAL (knit-along), and she did it again this year.   You can read more about her yarn dyeing, interior designing and more if you click on her name or the photo. 

Obviously, the bottom right is PANK for me – and for Gretchen Greer.  It’s merino laceweight, and Gg has given it her seal of approval; I didn’t get it out of the box before she was kissing and loving on the yarn.   Frankly though, I’d have been delighted with any of those hues!

photo.JPGLast but not least, today’s a really important day!  It’s National Take Your Dog to Work Day, and I’d like to thank my inlaws and Shadow for arranging their vacation around said event so that the fur-girls, the Knight, Uncle and Bert (the Knight’s LONG-time assistant, pre-dating Neighbor Guy) for being good sports.   Good thing I have a wealth of stock photos of the girls at work, eh Flickr?  😦

But hold the phone…  it’s also the first day of summer which means it’s also National Wear Your Lilly Day!  Can you imagine the joy in my little preppy, dog-lovin’ heart?!  I’m wearing my Gigi cyan dress today to honor the collision of two really awesome celebrations.  Because it’s a coolish first day of summer here in podunk, and because the fur-girls are at work with me, I added cropped leggings underneath.  I’ve decided that tunics and leggings make me almost as a happy as a sheath dress… maybe even happier, because a sheath dress isn’t exactly ideal dog-ma attire, but a tunic and leggings?  I can scoop up a fretful Gg and laugh at Sissy slobber and still look a little polished. 

LP Captiva Tunic in High Beams

LP Captiva Tunic in High Beams

And since the great shot of my bangle AND my Lilly won’t upload, here’s the tunic I think the girls want me to have for my birthday.  I might go buy it later today…

Have you gotten anything exciting in the mail recently? 

Any great first weekend of summer plans?

Ramped… down?

Happy Thorsday, little friday, Thankful Thursday and last day of spring.   I need a little advice on training over on the girls’ blog, please?

photo.JPGSee that rustic boat landing?  Yeah.  That’s what it looked like in the dead of winter.  Imagine what it’s like after several inches of rain in just a few days.  Imagine what kind of idiot would venture near it, even in (very worn) trail running shoes.

Hem.  There are no photos of me, with mud from shoulder to toe, but the girls begged to go to the river, and while I was assuring them it was too wet… 

Yeah.  I am sure I looked like a cartoon, with my feet flying out from under me, but I landed on my right side.  From the looks of the drying mud, I decided my hip/thigh had taken the brunt of the fall, but based on what still hurts five days later, I evidently tried to catch myself and twisted my arm and shoulder. 

Brooks Cascadia 8 (current version... not the 6 that is tried and true for me)

Brooks Cascadia 8 (current version… not the 6 that is tried and true for me)

I’m thankful I wasn’t really hurt.  I’m thankful that thus far, my walking injuries have been very mild and have allowed me to tote myself home, even with two energetic dogs in tow.   But I’m wondering how to know when to retire my beloved trail shoes.  (I do have a brand new, identical pair in waiting.)  In the past, I’ve simply waited until the shoes no longer protected me from my old athletic injuries and their pains, or until something cracked, split or otherwise signalled that the time had come.  But these Brooks Cascadia gems just keep on. 

Why yes, the soles are slick, and I do realize that’s a bad idea for trails and on a hard-surface road, but these shoes still feel like no other on my feet and cushion my somewhat fragile back from the stress of covering 20 miles or more most weeks at all sorts of paces.  I’ve put way more than 600 miles on them, and they’re pushing a year old, which is really saying something; I generally have to retire my walking/running shoes after about 6 months, no matter what the exterior looks like, because being an accident-prone youth athlete is a gift that keeps on giving.

I do rotate shoes.  I have hiking shoes that are worn about once a week in the colder months, I have grete Brooks Ghosts for cold, wet trails, and I have the New Balance road runners the Knight bought me.   Currently, I rotate back and forth between the Brooks Cascadias, the New Balances and a dash of Brooks Ghost if it’s cool and wet. 

What do you perhaps need to let go of soon?

Here Slicker, Slicker…

I am in need of what I call a slicker.  It’s a rain coat.  Now…  I own several, but none are quite right.

From Target... no longer available

From Target… no longer available

I have an awesome, much-loved red trench.  It’s water-resistant, but it’s very much a tailored, nearly knee-length, statement item.   I have a high-hip length navy trench too (Land’s End, also no longer available) that is even a summery weight, and I have a turquoise, very high hip slicker that is just all wrong.

I have nearly what I want… a low hip (or slightly longer) not plasticky slicker, but the hood is brim-less, and it’s at least three sizes too large.  I wear it to walk the dogs on short walks on drizzly days. 

I also have another summer-weight, hooded jacket that is only good for either a heavy mist or a fast sprint to the nearest doorway.

  • I want the good, old-fashioned slicker of years gone by… without the plastic feel. 
  • I must have a hood, either with a brim or deep enough to accommodate a ball cap underneath.  (If you wear glasses, you get it.  If not, just know they don’t make wipers for glasses.)
  • Breathability would be a plus.
  • I don’t want to pay a small fortune for it.

Any suggestions?

Books by the Bay Mysteries

I’ve been reading a lot again.  I finished Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 last Friday, and dove right into book #2 of Books by the Bay Mystery Series by Ellery Adams.  But first, I’ll touch on F 451.  The League book club will discuss it tomorrow night, and it is an interesting selection for a group whose new focus is literacy.  It’s even more interesting because the main character is a fireman, whose job is to burn books.  That’s so foreign to my own experience as a firefighter, where I truly enjoyed that books, by their very construction, usually weathered a fire better than other personal items.

I’m eager to discuss how well Mr. Bradbury predicted large TVs that dominate a home, and how his wife cares more about the characters in her TV shows than what’s going on in her own life.  It will be interesting to see how this still very new to us focus on literacy will wash over our discussion. 

If you haven’t read this classic, I will note that it’s a short, easy read.  Yes, it can be as deep and thought-provoking as you want it to be, but it’s also a quick way to add a classic by a great American Author to your reading list.  He’s not Faulkner or Michener, but I am indeed a Bradbury fan.  I read it on my iPad via the Kindle app.

a_deadly_Catch_smI rewarded myself with a little – okay, a lot – of light reading.  I quickly devoured A Deadly Cliche, book #2 in the Books by the Bay Mysteries, and finished The Last Word last night.  I started Written in Stone immediately, and have already confirmed that Amazon is pre-selling the fifth book in the series for a fall release. 

I hesitate to call these cozy mysteries.  The books are over 250 pages in a not-large-print font, and at least with books #2 and #3, once the murder is solved, there’s still a personal mystery or two to wrap up before the book reaches its conclusion.  I can’t say more without a spoiler alert, and I really think a lot of you would enjoy this series, so… 

It doesn’t hurt that the books are set in coastal Carolina, or that one of the main characters is the impeccably well-mannered Captain Haviland.  Yup… that’s the good dog right there, front and center of the cover.  He reminds me very much of another black standard poodle I knew in my childhood, who was also the constant companion of a stately, single woman.   However, Mrs. E was a mature widow, not a dead-body finding 40-something…

I’m reading this series in paperback, courtesy of Basically Blogless Susan, aka: my book source.  Most of my cozies come from her.  One advantage of paper (real?) books is that they can be shared as long as the binding holds up.  Susan buys them and generally, at least two others read them before they come to me, and then I send them west to gMarie, who then sends them back east to a couple of others…

Do you share books with friends?   I’m actually eager to see what the book club will pick next, and I still have a deep pile of cozies to tackle!

No Ma’am?

1984 Nova Scotia Trip

1984 – My grandmother and her sisters and friends on a trip. Most of them were retired nurses or teachers, and they wanted – EXPECTED – to be addressed as ma’am!

So.  After a lifetime of being told to respect my elders, authority, be polite to everyone, I had a … things that make me go hmmmm moment recently.  Before I explain, I should also note that I pride myself on having spent most of my adult life promoting diversity in one way or another.  I try to be culturally sensitive and aware.

Now, imagine the big lightbulb that went off when another League leader, someone I’d say is basically in my peer group even though she’s a Sustainer (life member) and I’ve yet to move into that member class, pointed out that one reason she doesn’t feel so comfortable at “Active Member” events is the ma’am factor.

Here’s the thing.  There’s nothing like a well-intentioned, good-manners “ma’am” to put up a wall where there shouldn’t be one.  I know this; I’ve been gently laughing off “ma’ams” sent *MY* way by rookies in the fire service for several years now.  I don’t care about being one of the boys, but I also don’t want to be the (now former) chief’s wife in her ivory tower either.  My standard approach is to sweetly interrupt the speaker who ma’am’d me with something like, “Oh, that’s not necessary!  You get brownie points for good manners this time, but it’s just Chan in the future, please?” 

But somehow, I wasn’t able to transfer my own discomfort to those situations in the League where a “ma’am” was innocently tossed out and see that it’s impossible to claim we’re all one League, one big ol’ peer group, when we’re ma’amming and such. 

Keep in mind this isn’t church.  This isn’t a professional setting.  This is a civic group, where the President is roughly 20 years older than the youngest member, and we won’t talk about how much older the oldest member might be than said President. 

Help me.  How do we convey the message that ma’am is divisive within the confines of our League?  And I should clarify… virtually every woman within ear shot of said conversation chimed in and agreed that a well-meant “ma’am” had made her feel… old at some point or another.  Even the young, 30-something in the group had already had a few years’ worth of such experiences, because she works at UVA, and let’s face it, some college students think anyone over 25 is ANCIENT.  Plus, UVA is a good ol’ Southern school, so I’d like to think manners abound and anyone of authority gets sir’d or ma’am’d…