Monday, September 30, 2013

Adler Schedule


I should be working for the Iowa Chamber of Commerce because I am such a big fan. Really. WE HAVE SO MUCH FUN STUFF GOING ON HERE....And one of my favorite places to take nieces and nephews for "Aunt Rita Adventures" is the Adler Theater in downtown Davenport.
This is the outide -- it's right next to the Hotel Blackhawk.




The inside is gorgeous -- with the restored Art Deco interior.

The Fall Schedule of special events taking place at the Adler Theater is SIMPLY SPECTACULAR. I can hardly believe all the interesting things that will be happening here.  For our wedding anniversary -- I'd love to take John to this great acapella show.  My friend Linda saw them in person and they were moving, entertaining and wonderful.

October 18 -- Straight No Chaser



ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I wonder which acts will be with the traveling show??
October 30 -- I wonder if Heidi Klum will be here?


This is completely thrilling to me. Stephen King -- one of the best writers in the world -- collaborated with John Mellencamp to write this musical. The limited run will be in a dozen US cities -- we are so lucky -- and I HOPE I CAN GO!! (I might be in Houston at Quilt Market)
November 3 -- THIS IS HUGE. I CAN HARDLY WAIT.
AS YOU CAN WELL IMAGINE -- this is the ONE SHOW I won't want to miss. Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium!! If I NEVER believed in spirits or mediums or Ouiji boards -- she is the one who changed my mind. Seeing her in person could be one of those life-changing events. Who should I go with??
November 12. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THE LONG ISLAND MEDIUM is going to be in my town???




Memphis is just ONE of the Broadway musicals that will be at the Adler this year.

We'll also have the opportunity to see Mama Mia, the Addams Family, HAIR, American Idiot, Million Dollar Quartet.

AND they just announced that Buddy Valastro -- from the TLC show, The Cake Boss, will be here in November.

You could take a fall vacation to Davenport, Iowa. Stay at the sumptuous Hotel Blackhawk, and walk next door for all this great entertainment.
My friend Marion has often observed -- Iowa is the epi-center of cultural events and opportunities...
Check out the Adler Theater website...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sister-Friends

Since my Saturday theme has been friends....yesterday, writing about my sister Deena made me realize just how fortunate I am....and, of course -- PINTEREST says it best...



This is one of my favorite pictures -- my two neighbor sisters -- Ronda in blue and Deena in brown.  Because the three of us live in one square mile -- you'd think we'd see each other MORE OFTEN than we do...
Deena's daughter, Kelcy, took this great sisters picture -- even though Debbie wasn't there. She lives in Tennessee. We should PHOTO SHOP HER INTO THE PICTURE, EH?? She has always loved being the SKINNY ONE....

There are few things in life as sweet as having a sister-friend. As you know, I am SO LUCKY to have some awesome REAL sisters -- and also some really great FAUX sisters...YOU ALL KNOW WHO YOU ARE...
In Deena's kitchen -- she is baking a cake for a local fundraiser. The church can ALWAYS COUNT ON HER when they need somebody with a big heart AND excellent baking/cooking skills...

My definition of a sister is somebody who is always there for you. Nobody knows more about your REAL life than a sister. You can vent to her when you need to, and she listens. For good or bad -- she knows who you are and where you are coming from. Hey -- like any job -- 90% of the success is ALL ABOUT BEING THERE. You can never underestimate the value of SIMPLE ATTENDANCE... lol...

Here's some good advice we give each other when people let us down...


The best party of the summer last year was a baptism in Deena's back yard...

Guess what?  WE GET TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN....

This is Grandma Deena with last year's baptism baby -- Nora....

Deena's oldest granddaughter, Madeline, is holding the youngest granddaughter, Aspen...AWESOME PICTURE, new Mom Kelcy....
Yes -- we know how lucky we are...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Life Is Not A Dress Size

Hey -- I WROTE THE BOOK called Life Is Not A Dress Size. God knows I understand there are way more important things to worry about than how much I weigh. But, clearly, weight has always been my nemesis. In 2006, I got serious and over the course of the next three years, I lost 100 pounds. It was such hard work, you'd think there would be NO WAY I'd ever gain back even one ounce of that weight.

But -- alas -- never say never. At some point, I ate a Snickers...and...well....let's just say THE PARTY IS OVER. I accidentally gained back 40 pounds. ugh.

Now I'm back at it. Walking on my treadmill every day and eating right. I am inspired by my sister Deena -- who has lost 80 pounds at Weight Watchers. While Deena was losing -- I was gaining! Ain't life a trip??

My sister Deena -- before she lost the weight. This is me -- AFTER I lost my weight. (yes, I was still the fat one)

AND -- here's a great picture of Deena AFTER she lost the weight. With her daughter Kelcy, the official family photographer...


Recently, Deena added Yoga to her weight loss program. Every Monday night at 6:00 there is a class in McCausland (a nearby small town). WHAT A GREAT IDEA...I can do that. I should do that. I will do that. Definitely. Count me in...I agreed to go....it'll be great...

So -- two weeks ago -- I borrowed a Yoga mat.

Then -- last week -- at 5:00 -- I put on some Yoga clothes....oops....fell asleep....

Next week, I hope to actually get out of my chair and into my car....

Apparently, I've decided Yoga is something I don't want to rush into.

Some things are just better if you sneak up on ém...

But there is not a doubt in my mind that when I finally DO GO -- Deena will be there, waiting for me with open arms...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Leftover Brats

One of our favorite go-to meals in the summer is brats. On the grill or in the oven -- on a bun with onions and mustard or plain with baked beans...


Brats was one of Lillian's favorites -- but the novelty has worn off. As it turns out, leftover cooked brats is a handy thing to have in the frig. They already have all that delicious spicy seasoning...

One day, I sliced them up and put them in scrambled eggs...DELISH.  So simple and fast...

For supper one night, I cooked spaghetti, then crumbled two leftover brats, and tossed with fresh tomatoes and basil, a little olive oil and Parmesan cheese -- HEAVEN.

But here is my favorite leftover-brat-dish -- inspired by the Tuscan Sausage Soup at the Olive Garden. WHICH I LOVE. John has been digging all these delicious potatoes from his garden...

Think creamy potato soup with hot spicy sausage (the Olive Garden version has Kale in it..).

I looked up some recipes online...but nothing was quite right.

First, I fried off 5 strips of bacon. (to be completely honest -- it was six strips of bacon) I broke up the crispy bacon on a paper towel -- and used the drippings to saute a finely chopped Vidalia onion. While that was happening, I cubed three large potatoes and got them started with a little water in my Pampered Chef microwave vegetable cooker (they were tender in about 4 minutes)...

I drained the bacon fat -- crumbled three leftover brats into the nearly-cooked onions -- and added the hot nearly-cooked potatoes.  (seriously -- it's almost done...)

I poured in a quart of chicken stock and two cups of milk. I added 2 TBL of flour to some of the stock to help thicken the soup.

At that point -- the soup is almost ready. Since I didn't have any kale (shocking, I know) -- I chopped a cup of dark green leaf lettuce -- which was GREAT. (I think frozen spinach would have worked.)

After I put the soup in the bowls -- I sprinkled the CRISPY BACON on top.

HOLY COW....the soup was delicious!!  I know this is something I'll get hungry for.  Again.  Soon.  And from now on -- when I cook brats -- I'm going to deliberately make extra!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Read, Write, Blog

Here's the thing about Pinterest. WHATEVER you fancy at that moment in time -- you can indulge yourself for hours and hours. I've had a wonderful summer reconnecting with my friends -- doing a lot of reading...and writing...it all ends up here, as I BLOG ABOUT IT. So I made a new Pinterest Board, "Read, Write, Blog". IT IS SO MUCH FUN...and because of Pinterest I find a lot of like-minded individuals. It's a beautiful circle...









Tuesday, September 24, 2013

UNBELIEVABLE Reality Television

Okay -- so -- with the likes of Naked and Afraid on cable television -- WHAT COULD BE MORE UNBELIEVABLE OR BIZARRE??? Again -- leave it to TLC. This year, their new show was five Amish/Mennonite young adults who came to Los Angeles. They were put up in a house, and exposed to all-things-NOT-Amish...

Devon, in the middle -- is from Shipshewanna, Indiana. Lizzie, on the right -- is hiding her pregnancy from her Lancaster family...
After an especially wild night of drinking and cursing -- Iva (the beautiful blonde) accuses Betsy of violating her. She was so upset, her boyfriend Sam came from Lancaster to save the day and they went to the police to file charges against Betsy. Of course -- SURPRISE -- Betsy showed the VIDEO of Iva having sex with Devon...I AM SURE YOU ARE SORRY YOU MISSED THIS HIGH BROW SHOW...
Iva and Betsy both got drunk with Devon one night....they were all sex-starved...
But -- so far -- none of that is very amazing, is it? Too much drinking, ill-advised sex -- it sounds like an ordinary episode of The Real World, the Kardashians or my Big Fat Gypsy Wedding ...SO WHY AM I CALLING THIS IS THE MOST BIZARRE TELEVISION SHOW OF THE SUMMER??

Because -- one of the GUYS on the show -- Matt -- loves to sew!! And he came to Los Angeles to see if he could make it as a Fashion Designer!! At a meeting set up with an actual designer, Matt's shirts were critiqued by several other fashionistas -- including Bert Keeter from Season #9 of Project Runway.
Matt carried TWO sewing machines with him to California!!
So -- THERE YOU HAVE IT. The most bizarre, unbelievable reality show on television during the Summer of 2013. The ultimate oxymoron. An Amish fashion designer...

Matt has a line of men's shirts that he believes are very fashionable...he even used piping in a seam....
While in Los Angeles, Matt went clubbing one night with a real fashion designer and his friends. Of course, they went to gay bars -- and Matt was drinking....ugh...

Matt's Amish family doesn't have electricity -- so I am assuming they don't have television. THANK GOD. And I can't help but think these naive kids do not understand the concept of T-E-L-E-V-I-S-I-O-N. Obviously -- they do NOT know what the camera looks like...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer Reality Television

Okay -- now that its over (mostly) -- I'd like to thank cable television for the BEST SUMMER REALITY SHOWS EVER!

And I'm not just talking about Sister Wives, Project Runway, Real Housewives of New Jersey,  Duck Dynasty, Toddlers and Tiaras or the spinoff -- Honey Boo Boo. Those shows are wonderful, of course. You surely must know by now that I have VERY LOW STANDARDS when it comes to what I'll watch on television.

The best television shows -- like the best books -- teach you something. For example -- this summer -- I learned about the private yachting industry. Who knew there was one?? In the BRAVO show Below Deck -- was amazing.  The Honor yacht takes out private parties for a week-long luxury cruise. The guests are completely pampered and indulged. Every guest who comes aboard sends an advance list of food preferences, etc.  I don't know what the guests pay for the cruise itself -- but just the TIP at the end of a trip is expected to be  $12,000 (delivered as CASH to the Captain and then divided amongst the crew).

Working on a yacht is like indentured servitude...you MUST do everything the guests request.

But surely the most outlandish reality television show to ever hit cable television would be the Discovery Channel's show -- NAKED AND AFRAID.  Think how it went in the conference room when somebody was selling the premise....

TV exec #1: Let's put two complete strangers together for 21 days to see if they can survive in the wilderness.

Exec #2: Nah. That's already been done...

Exec #3:What if we make them take off all their clothes for the entire time?

Everybody in the room: THAT'S A GREAT IDEA..!!

Amazing that any network would agree to produce this show!!

BUT EVEN MORE AMAZING THAT THEY CAN FIND PARTICIPANTS...!!

Yet -- it actually happened. For the whole summer -- every week -- a different couple would meet on the edge of a wilderness. They take off all their clothes and for the next 21 days they eat bugs, suffer from sunburn and dysentery. They argue and shiver as they try to start fires with sticks while they dodge poisonous snakes and wild animals. If they survive they don't win a damn thing.

OH MY GOD...that is exactly like so many of my friends' first marriages....
Every  participant loses 20% of their body weight. My friend Sandy thinks it's better than the Biggest Loser...
But -- AS AMAZING AS THESE SHOWS have been this summer -- the summer's MOST UNBELIEVABLE SHOW deserves a post of it's own..yes -- it is even crazier than

NAKED AND AFRAID...
THAT show will be in my next post. (yes, Sandy, I promise to follow through!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Video of Libby Lehman

As promised -- the video of Libby Lehman. I did this interview with her in June 2011. She had a new class that she wanted to teach at the 2012 Sew Expo. I know many of my blog readers took classes from Libby.

She has a million friends in the sewing industry...and she needs our help. Quilt Market is doing a fund-raiser for Libby -- and will do up to $5,000 of matching funds. For more information -- click on this link
video

Friday, September 20, 2013

Update on Libby Lehman

Yes, I know the blog looks different....I'm forcing myself to LEARN MORE about how this design stuff works. And don't worry -- I'm not married to it. I am experimenting...

I got an email the other day from a friend looking for the Caring Bridge page for Libby Lehman. Click here to read the journal Libby's wonderful husband and sisters write.

Libby is on a long slow road back....

I took these two pictures of Libby at the 2013 Sew Expo..little did we know....

In the Bernina booth -- having a wonderful time....

It was just a month after these pictures were taken that Libby suffered the aneurysm, then the stroke. Now she is fighting off a MRSA infection....
Our Libby -- the friendliest, most gracious, smiling quilter EVER...
Libby has so many friends in the sewing industry. She loved what she did and she touched people all over the world. With her teaching, her ideas, her enthusiasm. If you were lucky enough to spend time with Libby -- you know she had the ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world.

When I read about her daily struggle -- I realize how everything changes in the blink of an eye. And how important it is to live in the moment. Be grateful for what you have....because nobody knows what tomorrow brings.

Thanks, Libby. Another lesson. Always the teacher.....get well, my friend...

**********

P.S. Libby has many friends in the sewing industry...and she needs our help. Quilt Market is doing a fund-raiser for Libby -- and will do up to $5,000 of matching funds. For more information -- click on this link

I did a video interview of Libby when she was in Bettendorf, Iowa with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson. We had lunch together on that day -- and she showed me her proposed class project for Puyallup. I will post it tomorrow...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Current Favorite Author and New York City!!

The first time I read a Linda Fairstein book was maybe ten years ago. My cousin Linda picked it for our book club and I WAS HOOKED. I don't actually remember that first title -- but there have been many since. At this point, I get five or six chapters into a Fairstein book and realize I've already read it. I thought about writing down the titles of books as I read them...but then again...that feels like work. And reading should be all about the PLEASURE...
At book club -- sharing Linda Fairstein books...

For me -- the BEST thing about her books is that they are always set in New York City. Linda Fairstein was the chief prosecutor in the Sexual Victims Unit for 20 years -- so the mysteries always have that bedrock of authenticity.  So make no mistake -- the crimes can be disturbing.

But she ALWAYS, ALWAYS TEACHES me something unexpected or even shocking about the buildings, people and places of New York City.

I learned so much about the art world as it exists in New York City...


Historical lessons...about Bannerman Castle, Governor's Island, etc.


She writes about an abandoned mental hospital on an island in the East River...
RECENTLY, I read Silent Mercy -- and was delighted when the story took me to the playground of the Cathedral in the Morningside neighborhood -- St. John the Divine. My friends Judy and Steve used to live on 112th Street and Broadway -- and St. John the Divine was just down the street -- on Amsterdam. I spent so many wonderful days in that neighborhood...and an organ concert...one year a Christmas service.
 
The Baptist churches in Harlem used to be Jewish synagogues!
I LOVE HER WRITING. She makes NYC architecture and history a fascinating element to every mystery. Whether she is writing about the NYC Opera, the Mayor's mansion, or the massive underground tunnels that exist beneath some of the largest hospitals in the world -- I always learn something completely unexpected.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Linda's Gift

Okay. Let's face it. My life is wonderful. BECAUSE every single day has something or somebody I enjoy. Monday is cleaning day (Thank you, Carrie). Tuesday I leave my clean orderly house to hang with my BOOK CLUB. We eat, we talk, we laugh, we cry. We hash out our week. The four of us are the BEST SUPPORT for one another. We are so lucky....

BOTH Linda's need operations this year. When Linda P. was recovering from knee surgery, it seemed like a halupke supper was a good idea. But Linda K. is having a different kind of surgery and halupkes won't work...
Me -- and the two surgery-Lindas...


And our fourth member -- Sandy...(the card maker)

My cousin Linda is a quirky artist. Here she is, in her living room with her best friend Jack...(who HATES me)...
Linda's home is full of her artistic touches...some she makes herself...

Or -- she might buy pieces at flea markets or art shows. She has always had her own point of view.
Linda bought this glass table made out of old vases glued together...


Of course, she soon had to make one herself -- out of blue wine bottles!
I think drinking the wine was her favorite part...
Linda and I share a love of wire art. She made this woman -- then draped her with the perfect wrap.


So, if food isn't a good idea -- I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M GOING TO MAKE. Time for another visit to t-shirt mountain!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So Many Books...


Reading is done of the BIG JOYS in my life. I always have a book going...one in the living room, a different one in the bathroom...that kind of thing. Right now, I'm reading Adriana Trigiani's Milk Glass Moon. Linda P. from bookclub gave it to me. I started reading Adriana YEARS ago when Mary Mulari recommended her. I loved The Shoemaker's Wife, Big Stone Gap, Rocco -- she is a great writer.

I just finished David Sedaris' "When You Are Engulfed in Flames". HE IS such a good writer.


AND, I love books on tape. I always have two of them going at once. One in the car and a different one in my basement. Recently, when John's friend Joe came for a visit -- he said he also enjoys listening to books on tape. (Cracker Barrel has a system whereby you can RENT books on tape when you're traveling. A genius program.) Joe was leaving Iowa for a two day drive to Pennsylvania...

I realized that we had a favorite author in common -- John Sanford....so I gave him a CD book on tape -- Bad Blood. Sanford's hero, Lucas Davenport, does most of his sleuthing in and around Minneapolis. I LOVE HIM. He makes the time and place come alive...


When Jackie was home for her visit last month (pictured here at our Tuesday Breakfast Club) she was asking for advice for a good book on tape for their long (six hours?) ride home...

I highly recommended The Chase by Clive Cussler. Last fall, Jackie's sister Linda recommended it to me -- and John and I were spellbound across three states. Read by Scott Brick -- it is a fast-paced, action-packed, historical novel that covers a lot of territory. It's the kind of book where you pull into a rest area and stay sitting in the car and you don't realize you're holding your breath until the end of the chapter...

My current FAVORITE AUTHOR...well...I have to download some pictures. That's another post...