Michael McDermott Concert

7 Dec
Not so long ago my friend and I went to a  M. McDermott show at a small venue.  Our Memorial Opera House has recently become a place for many types of performances, and it proved the perfect space to see such a prolific singer/songwriter.
 
Growing up, I was surrounded by the music of poets;  Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Pete Seger.  I remember sitting in front of my parents’ record player listening to John Denver, all the while staring at his young face and perfectly round spectacles.  I can close my eyes and still visualize the album cover in my hands. 
 
When Michael McDermott began playing, I was transported back to my parent’s house, buckled parquet flooring leaving marks on my knees as I kneeled before the hundred or so records of some of the best singer/songwriters of all time.  I was transfixed by McDermott’s lyrics and the poetry of the music.  I could imagine  McDermott’s exterior; the streets of Chicago, riding the L, playing the Double Door. 
 
I was enamoured by McDermott’s honesty regarding his struggles with addiction, the awe experienced in parenthood, and the way he has used music to express his questions about mortality and passion.  Throughout the concert he would stop to reminisce and expand on the songs rhetoric.  His set was engaging, hilarious and at moments painfully raw as he would disclose his trials.  With his wife by his side playing the violin, the audience was enthralled by the love McDermott expresses through his music. 
 
Check him out-thCA1M9WHO

-Megan Pikula guest post

My new online Etsy shop

27 Nov
It seems I have put the blog on a backburner to focus on another passion; my little online store on Etsy.  The shop is http://www.etsy.com/shop/MuckaDuck; we sell handmade, repurposed do dads. 
Welcome to “Muck a Duck” our online store for jewelry, pillows, and art. Everything is handmade using repurposed materials in addition to new elements.
We met at the age of sixteen and realized we were kindred spirits. Partially due the fact we know too much about one another we have remained loyal compadres.
At various times in our lives we married, had careers as an attorney and a social worker, had some savage beasts we love as children and then returned to our roots-soul surfing.   We create tid bits and throw it into the world and hope someone appreciates it. Thanks for following our misguided adventures.
This started as a happy accident  that became a little business.  Feel free to send us a shout out and check in with us as we add new b’s to our baubles.
Check out the shop and give me your feedback!

DIY bow shirt

5 Oct

Recently my friend and I whipped up this bow shirt.  I thought it was cute, well perhaps not.  My husband said it looked like I could be an announcer on Telmundo and my sister said it looked like part of a costume!  I do think now we should have decreased the size of the bright purple bow!

 

The absurdity known as life

29 Sep

I believe I am innately bored by many things.  Although I appreciate silliness, I tend to find most things wry and just okay.  People will criticize this but it’s honest which tends to be the point of everything.  Further I would like to add I have read a million self help books and embrace therapy to find the ‘art of happiness and fulfillment.’  I believe in the value of living in the moment.   I just require more practice.   

This leads me to my next thought; the laws of attraction.  My husband is my polar opposite in regards to outlook.  Obviously environmental factors have shaped our fundamental differences.  My childhood was steeped in dysfunction and the gravity of shitty choices.  While Mike’s childhood was perhaps not idyllic for all, it provided him a sense of security and happiness.  Mike remarks after most encounters “that was fun.”  The other night when he said this I thought to myself ‘that’s overkill, it was a movie.’

I write this post with admiration for the people around me who share this optimistic vantage point.  I am in unbelievable envy of merriment and giddiness.  Although due to me being myself, I rarely think people’s gaiety matches the life event taking place.  Most people who exude abundant happiness seem to approach every day with the same flavor.  Of course it’s unseemly to tell people to tone it down when they express happiness from working out or eating at a restaurant. 

Today was one of those days where I felt perhaps my true family is with the curmudgeon down the street who waits for the mail-person to deliver in order to rant about his misfortunes.  I may not share his negativity but I do get him. 

Today my six-year-old and my husband waited roughly three hours outside for dirt to be delivered.  My husband was convinced the truck was right around the corner at 2pm.  By 4:30 I crossed my arms and stepped outside.  I looked at Mike and said “really, you have nothing better to do.”  I felt like I was running a group home with my family waiting outside for something, anything to take place.  I say this with tenderness because I worked in group homes for years while in college.  The residents rarely have an agenda except to wait. 

I asked my daughter “what are you doing outside?”  She replied with a wide grin “counting red leaves!”  To this, I had nothing to add except , “alrighty then.”   I did wonder how both father and child found their current activities so amusing.  Mike looked over at Anni and smiled “great pile.”  

My other daughter is far more like myself.  She always seems to have intent and purpose.  Mike asked if she wanted to come outside and she asked “why.”  When she heard the answer was waiting for dirt, she said “no, I will take a bath.”  She’s three. 

I am bemused by my in home residents; daughters that differ so completely and love me entirely.   And I feel so lucky in love with the goofiest  time jack that is Mike. 

Perspective

11 Sep
You know where you are when your day turns from ordinary to wish I had a redo?!
My day fell into the redo category quickly. 
 
It began with a school aid having to pry my daughter off of me when I dropped her off this morning.  Anni has adamantly decided she does not like school and would rather stay home and draw all day.  She also has a rather rigid teacher for her first grade year and Anni is adjusting to new expectations.  This is the aspect of parenting that is difficult; teaching your child to nurture their sensitivity in tandem with  adaptation of structure.  Academic settings in the elementary schools do not typically foster emotional sentiment and creative endeavors.
 
Next pitfall was my physical discomfort while marathon training.  I am having recurrent stomach issues while running that make performance arduous.  It’s beyond frustration when the human body reminds us how vulnerable we are.  This leads to my next sidenote; time is so limited.  Self explanatory, my to do’s seem longer than the wane of daylight hours.
 
Other WTF today, my husband flys out again for work tomorrow.  With only a day’s notice, I feel tired.  When I vented to a friend, she remarked “at least he has a job in this economy.”  Sometimes these remarks minimize the aggravation one feels privy to express.  Yes, truth be told we are lucky my husband is gainfully employed.  However I felt like telling my friend that was not the irritant expressed so let’s focus on the topic.  
 
To wrap it up the direct tv technician arrived unexpected as my dog decided to go on a garbage binder in the neighborhood.  I broke three Pyrex containers.  As they shattered in the kitchen my three-year old urinated on the couch. 
 
Just when I wanted to lock myself in the bathroom and drown myself in my uncleaned toilet I hear a tribute on tv for the victim’s families of September 11th. 
 
 Here is what is important; I am able-bodied and can run for accomplishment not out of need, a marriage based on respect and commitment, children with big ideas that may lead to even bigger dreams, a home that is so much more than a house and friends wise enough enough to express their love not just their opinions. 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 

Orange chicken recipe

11 Sep
Tried this recipe the other night and it was awesome!  However, there are sooo many steps.  I cut to the chase and made sauce ahead of time and put it on top of chicken in casserole dish.  I heated up dish in oven at 350 degree’s for 15 minutes prior to dinner.

Better Than Takeout Orange Chicken

by Meseidy on March 19, 2010

Orange Chicken 550

Yesterday  as I stood in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner I wondered to myself, how do those people do it on those shows where they are given random ingredients and are suppose come up with something genius.  I think I stood there for a solid 20 minutes looking in the cupboards and staring into the freezer hoping that I would be struck by some ingenious idea.  Then I saw the oranges and it hit me “O-raang Shh-ikun”….that is orange chicken if you can’t understand the accent.

I love orange chicken and I almost always order # 14 Orange Chicken when we order Chinese take out and I wondered to myself if I could make it better at home.  This recipe most definitely delivered!   Ha ha chinese food…delivered….get it?  Am I a dork?

The sauce is sweet, tangy, there is no lack in orange flavor and the red pepper flakes give it just a touch of heat.  I thought I would dredge the chicken in corn starch instead of flour to keep it light and also in panko breadcrumbs to give it a little crunch.  It was the right call, the chicken came out lightly breaded and still held up a bit of a crunch when tossed in the sauce.  Delicious!

Combine corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Prepare a bowl with beaten eggs, panko bread crumbs and another with corn starch. Dip chicken in egg mixture, dredge in cornstarch, then again in the eggs and finally in the panko bread crumbs, set aside.  Heat pan with vegetable oil to 375 degrees, fry chicken in batches until completely cooked.

Orange Chicken

As you finish each batch drain cooked chicken in a paper towel lined plate.

Orange Chicken

In a large saucepan combine 1 ½ cups water, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Blend well over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.  Combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce until it thickens.

Orange Chicken

Pour sauce over breaded chicken, and if desired garnish with green onions, which I would have used but I didn’t have any.

Orange Chicken

We loved, loved, loved this and I had to refrain totally gorging myself.  At first I wasn’t even trying to make something with posting it in mind, I was just trying to make “something” for dinner, but it was so good I had to share it.  I have to say that this is definitely better then takeout.  Enjoy!

Orange Chicken 550

Chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-1/2” cubes
  • 1 ½ cups corn starch
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Oil (for frying)

Orange Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ginger root, minced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Combine corn starch, salt, and pepper.  Prepare a bowl with beaten eggs, another with panko bread crumbs and another with corn starch. Dip chicken in egg mixture, dredge in cornstarch, then again in the eggs and finally in the panko bread crumbs, set aside.  Heat pan with vegetable oil to 375 degrees, fry chicken in batches until completely cooked.

In a large saucepan combine 1 ½ cups water, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Blend well over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce until it thickens. Pour sauce over breaded chicken, and if desired garnish with green onions.

DIY take take my picture

6 Sep
I used this photo transfer method to make darling pillows for my gals.  Check out the tutorial from Country Living Magazine after ooohing and aaahing me’s wee pillows…
 Did you know that you don’t need special fabric for the printer? Nope… you just need… Freezer Paper!
 
Cut a piece of freezer paper the size of a 8.5 x 11 piece of computer paper. Then, just iron it on to the back of the fabric that you’d like to print the photo on.
 
Cut the fabric to the size of the freezer paper after it’s been ironed on.
 
I took my picture and put it on a word document so that I could size it to fill up the most of a regular sheet of paper. Put your freezer papered fabric into the printer so that it will print on just the fabric side (NOT the freezer paper).
 
Sew two sides of fabric together to create pillow!

DIY canisters

27 Aug
These jars are incredibly easy to make!  I used old pickle and olive jars.  I painted the lids and a matching cowboy/indian in the same color.  I adhered the action figure to the top of the lid with heavy duty glue(e6000).
 

Crazy about summer camp

23 Aug
My husband and I took the kids this summer to YMCA camp in Missouri, along with close friends and their family.  I thought we would find it kitschy, sit by a campfire and later laugh about our odd vacation spot. 
 
Needless to say I LOVED camp and would venture to say it was one of the most memorable times I have had to date.  There were countless activities to fill the balmy days for kids and adults.  Some of the activities included zip lining, paddle boating, alpine swing, under water basket weaving and my personal favorite paddle boarding!  I relished the fact I could easily zip across the lake on the board and my ever competitive husband could not stand erect!  Check out photo below as proof of my awesome ability and then imagine my 6 foot four-inch husband clutching the board while horizontal in water-really.
Summer camp reminds me of some of my best childhood memories at Camp Lutherhaven.  I remember the way the rustic cabin envelopes you at the end of a long day as camp winds down.  I love jumping into a cool lake early in the day as the sun dances on the water.  I even enjoy the camaraderie of eating in a mess hall, planning the days activities.  All events free of the mental exhaustion that typically accompanies life’s banal day-to-day.  Although I am not a dedicated Lutheran to date I still adore camping in a cabin and singing songs fireside.  Huge props to YMCA family camp in the Ozarks! 
 
Recently a girlfriend directed me to this arty website regarding cool, adventure seeking family camp!  Look how incredible this place in Wisconsin looks!  Fun to be had in the great outdoors!

Midwest Lake Vacation Spots: Wandawega Lake Resort

Posted Chicago magazine

A summer-camp–like stomping ground just two hours from Chicago

By Jan Parr
 
 

Rope swings at Lake Wandawega

ELKHORN, WISCONSIN

DRIVE TIME: 2 HOURS
LOCATED BY: RED CEDAR LAKE
BEST FOR: NATURE LOVERS

If your idea of a lake getaway involves cabins, beers resting in an ice-filled cooler, and a rope swing, Wandawega Lake Resort in Walworth County is your summer camp away from home. Minutes from the shopping and dining options of Lake Geneva and the hiking and biking trails of Kettle Moraine State Forest, Wandawega has a colorful history. The site served for decades as a retreat for Latvian priests, until two creative directors at Ogilvy in Chicago bought it in 2004. Tereasa Surratt, one of the owners, has described the resort’s carefully cultivated vibe as “cottage chic at its best. In fact, camping indoors is a nice way to think about it.”

Actually, calling Wandawega a resort may be a tad grandiose, considering that Surratt warns visitors they may encounter ladybugs or caterpillars on their pillows or small critters in the shower. During my stay there one hot summer weekend, I encountered no such pests. In fact, my husband and I spent a long afternoon in the lake and on the dock, serenely unbothered by intruders. When evening came, we bought a pizza (although secluded on 25 wooded acres with a private beach, the resort is still close to civilization) and enjoyed it on our cabin’s deck. The cottage itself was utterly charming, as if Martha Stewart had redecorated an authentically rustic campsite with cheery linens, blankets, books, photos, and quirky ephemera. An air conditioner stood at the ready, but we never turned it on. It is possible to rough it even more by renting the vintage Boy Scout tents, which are canvas cabins on wood platforms, outfitted with beds and chairs.

Perhaps dangling your feet in the lake over the edge of an inner tube doesn’t provide enough stimulation. There’s also basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, tennis, bonfires, fishing (for panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pike), horseshoes, rowing, and hiking. When Surratt and her husband, David Hernandez, are around, which is most weekends, guests may visit the main lodge and partake of its amenities—billiards, darts, and movies. Here’s a fun idea: Get a crew together and rent the whole place for a weekend. We’ll join you.
 

DAY TRIPS

Kettle Moraine State Forest’s Northern Unit (262-626-2116) offers tons of hiking and biking trails through the glacier-formed hills of Wisconsin; the Ice Age Visitor Center (920-533-8322) explains it all. If you’re craving classic tourist stuff—fudge shops, adorable boutiques, great restaurants—Lake Geneva is close by; don’t miss a boat tour of the mansions on the lake (800-558-5911, cruiselakegeneva.com). Many of the fab vintage items adorning the Wandawega cabins come from the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market (Walworth County Fairgrounds, 411 E. Court St.; 414-525-0820)—Surratt’s favorite. Catch it if you happen to be around on June 26th, August 14th, or September 25th. Elegant Farmer (1545 Main St., Mukwonago; 262-363-6771, elegantfarmer.com) is a local grocery that’s been lauded by The New York Times and Gourmet for its homemade apple pies baked in paper bags.
 

THE DETAILS

W5453 Lake View Dr., Elkhorn; wandawegarentals.com
Rates are $200 to $300 per cabin per night (two-night minimum), with discounts for multiple rooms or by the week. Also available are Boy Scout canvas cabins: $100 per tent, must rent all three tents for two-night minimum.

Tick Tock

15 Aug

When my daughter was two and a half and just learning to articulate herself she would ask anyone “you healthy and happy?”  My parents thought it so adorable she seemed concerned with the welfare of others at such a young age.  One Christmas she went around the table and asked everyone in attendance if they were healthy and happy.  She waited for each response before continuing to the next guest.  Children are like mina birds at that age, repeating well used phrases they hear.  For our children Mike and I did and do wish good health and an abundance of happiness that will shield them from the other ebb and flow that is the natural rhythm of life.  I know they will experience their fair share of hurt and loss.  Perhaps it’s natural parental ignorance to think  a strong immune system and a goofy smile will shield them from the messiness and chaos of life.

I registered my oldest daughter for school the other day and could not believe the summer is almost over and another season will be upon us.  I feel anticipation permeate my bones the way cold weather affects an arthritic body.  Hope is my mantra at the beginning of this school year.  The laundry list grows long as I reiterate to Anni what a great year she will have.  I wish for her kindness that is reciprocal, a love for learning and retaining knowledge, friendship and giggles that comfort, the experience of failing and trying harder until you achieve.

The pressure to excel and perform is much greater than when I was young.  Today school shootings are rampant in the media.  Our youth have to discriminate moral consequences when they are least prepared to understand the ramifications.  Kids are texting nude pictures of themselves and facebooking about one another without comprehending how fragile the child ego can be.  Children are asked to complete achievement standards to advance a grade.  Academic testing is administered as early as kindergarten. 

I want Anni to be socially aware without robbing her of the innocence that should be a rite of passage as a little girl.  I want Anni to work diligently without concern for measuring up to her peers.  Are these expectations too grand or unrealistic I wonder.  As I watched Anni this morning wiggling her first loose tooth in the mirror I silently hoped she would be engaged with the pleasures of childhood for a long time.  She turned to me and smiled a big goofy grin and exclaimed “the tooth fairy is magic, right mom?”   

After taking Anni home from the hospital as a newborn I was overcome with the nervous feeling of loving her so much I felt fearful.  I wanted to protect her from the hurts I experienced and knew it would prove an impossible task.  I can now articulate what I wanted for my daughter was trite, simple and pure.  I wanted her to be happy and healthy.  School is another imposing fear, we have to take our children from their protected environment and let other people stongly influence her.  I hope she is surrounded by teachers and peers who believe in magic as my little Anni so honestly believes.