Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Re-blogged from - From Melsha Unplugged on Tumblr

I am having a moment.  One of those situations where you are lost and unsure of what needs to happen next and whether you need to be in the middle of it.  I am a caretaker at heart.  It kills me to see anyone hurting… in distress… at the end of their rope with no where to turn and no hope left.

Imagine how you would feel if you had carefully stacked a long line of dominoes up and then someone jokingly bumps into you causing the dominoes to begin to fall one by one. The only problem is you no longer have the means to stand them back up again…you need help and no one is either willing or able to help you.

What if those dominoes represented your job, your car, your home, your electricity, your heat, your internet access & your food budget or lack there of. How long could you do without any of those things?

I’m torn - I am not wealthy - but I am better off than the one who needs help stacking the dominoes again.  Do I overextend myself to help or do I be honest & say I wish I had the means, but I don’t.

It feels wrong to turn my back, so wrong it hurts. Like I should be going to confession to say I didn’t do what I know I should be doing to help a soul, on the ropes, in deep trouble. But then again will it be enough to only pick up one domino when I can’t control all the others? Will it make a difference.  What would you do?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday ~ The Chef Within Me

It's Week 11 of my Stream of Consciousness Sunday posts. So I'm not sure about the other working Moms out there, but I'm exhausted at the end of the workday & most of the time I am not sure what I'm cooking for dinner until I figure it out on the drive home.  

Before we had Munchkin I used a rotation of about 24 different meals that my husband & I both enjoyed. Now that we have a preschooler, who is a very good eater - don't get me wrong but when it comes to his main meals he's a very clean eater. He is also very much like my father was when I was growing up - he's a straight protein & carbohydrate kid. Dad would never eat a hot dish or casserole as some people call them.

Munchkin loves roasted or Grilled Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, Pulled Pork, BBQ Spare Ribs, Beef Roast, Salmon, Spaghetti or simple Soft Tacos.  He'll also eat Chili, Ham Steak, Butternut Squash Soup and Veggie Stirfry. He loves Potatoes - mashed or roasted, plain Brown, Wild or Spanish Rice. Simple Salads & Veggies are also okay. Fresh Fruit we add at almost every meal.

What he doesn't like to eat yet are some of my most favorite things to cook, like Lasagna, Enchilada Casserole, Chicken & Dumplings, Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Beef Stroganoff, Tuna Casserole, Chicken Parmesan, Cheesy Potatoes and so many other things I might prepare ahead of time at a place like "Let's Dish". He might also be the only kid alive who won't eat Macaroni & Cheese - and I only make the homemade variety.
So I find myself obsessing over my cookbooks & all the new things I'd love to make that I find on Pinterest. My almost month long rotation of meals is reduced to about a 2 week rotation & it's getting a bit boring.

I know it's a matter of time & he's want to eat more things, but until then I need to stay motivated to plan our meals a week in advance.  My husband & I were a bit spoiled during the time I was staying at home looking for work - I had a ton of time to plan meals.

My time is up & my rant is done, but I'm curious what you do to encourage your kids to try new combined foods. When did you see them start to want to eat everything on your normal menus?
This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.

§         Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.

§         Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.

§         Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.

§         Link up your post at all.things.fadra

§         Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Retro Roadtrip Humor

Sometimes the funny things catch your eye as you are on a long road trip...Like this camper that looked new, but was meant to look retro.  Or this plastic buffalo thing:

Thanks to satellite radio, a huge selection of old eighties tunes kept hubby from falling asleep at the wheel.  When this particular song came on I had to take a pic of the dashboard, as if in disbelief.

This had to be the cheesiest song I heard on our recent road trip up to Duluth, or more likely - ever.  The lyrics are below and I even included the video in case the tune wasn't familiar to you.  Seriously, I could not believe my hubby did not turn it off after the first 20 seconds or so. 

Note: I plead the 5th if this tune gets stuck in your head after watching the video.


See what I mean ;  )

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard - By Blotto
Selling shoes
Another loser working in a shopping mall
9 to 5
A slave driver telling me 'Get on the ball!'
A crowded store
I kneel before them
Misery beyond compare
Sweaty socks
A lady boxer
What's she got against fresh air?
I want an ocean and some sunscreen lotion
Take me to the beach with a thousand pretty girls in reach

I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (help, help, help, help)
I, I, I wanna guard your life
I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (lifeguard, lifeguard)
Hardly any clothes (lifeguard)
Sand between my toes (lifeguard)
White stuff on my nose

Selling shoes
Another loser working in a shopping mall
I'm getting fat
What does it matter?
Nobody cares at all
But next July, I'll say goodbye to every out-of-it, dull-witted fool
Convert their feet into meters, marking distance at the swimming pool
Summer blondes revealing tanlines
I'll make more moves than Allied Van Lines

I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (be a big man, now... get a great tan, now)
I, I, I wanna guard your life
I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (lifeguard, lifeguard)
Sitting on my chair (lifeguard)
In the salty air (lifeguard)
White stuff on my nose
I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (help, help, help, help)
I, I, I wanna guard your life
I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (lifeguard, lifeguard)
Lounging on the deck (lifeguard)
Whistle 'round my neck (lifeguard)
White stuff in my nose
I, I, I wanna be a lifeguard (lifeguard, lifeguard) 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Last Minute Plans

It's Week 10 of my Stream of Consciousness Sunday posts. Sometimes last minute plans are the best.  I took Munchkin to one of his friend's birthday parties earlier this week & ended up having my son's best friend's Mom invite us to come to an Apple Orchard with them.  It's been on my "to do as a family" list, but we hadn't checked it off yet.

So Saturday morning we were on our way to the orchard.  It wasn't a huge drive from our home, yet it felt a little bit out in the country.  We passed horses, barns, knee high corn & plenty of dirt roads & fields on the way.

We picked two kinds of apples, including a variety of crab apple that brought me back to my childhood with it's fragrant, tender, sweet & crisp texture.  We also picked quite a few Honeycrisp apples. After a while, the boys were only focused on eating as many apples as they could at one time. Munchkin munched on three.

Then we went to find raspberries - a first for me since I never buy them in the store.  We searched high & low on the bushes for the darker red & very sweet berries.  Munchkin & I picked a pint. We also ate quite a few along the way.

After we paid for the fruit we picked, the boys waited patiently for a ride on the cow train. They had a blast - waved goodbye as they pulled away & giggled the entire time.

Quite the haul...Munchkin picked out the white pumpkin, along with a pumpkin holder full of apple juice. I chose a few more baking apples to take home. When hubby saw how much we bought - he said "I'd eat some apple crisp" ...and so I baked...

A fitting ending to a fun morning with friends that we are getting to know a little better each time we meet up. The sad part is that Munchkin's best bud will be gone in only a couple of years. His father is a resident surgeon who unfortunately will be taking an assignment which will move them out of state. They always give each other monster hugs every time they see each other & when it's time to leave as if they aren't sure if it will be their last.  For now, we will make sure the boys spend as much time together as possible, because life is short & memories like these are a blessing.

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.

§         Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.

§         Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.

§         Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.

§         Link up your post at all.things.fadra

§         Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Stream of Consciousness Sunday - Clothes Shopping for Boys or  Stream of Consciousness Sunday: A Look Book - Beyond the Runway

Update 9/24/2011: CBS News did a story on Apple Jack Orchard & here's the link!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mn Blogger Conference 2011 - Take Two

Here we are - one year later and another Minnesota Blogger Conference is in the books. Founders & Missy Berggren along with their planning committee members, Josh Braaten, Beth Rubin-Gabor, Bridget Nelson Monroe,and "birthday girl" Suzi Magill put on a wonderful event, improving on last year in so many ways, including the venue, parking, food & being able to accommodate twice as many attendees.

The Keynote: Blogs to Riches was by Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing, who was also a sponsor.  

He left us with five main ideas:
1. "No Blog Plan is a Plan to Fail"
2. "Adapt & Thrive"
3. "It's Not All About You" (Show interest in other people)
4. "Ask. Recognize. Repeat." (To invite participation with the readers of your blog - your community)
5. "The End is Near, Let's Start" (telling us to not be stopped in our tracks when we think we've run out of ideas to write about & how to find more)

First time I had been in the same room as Lee after following him & hearing so much about him & his other speaking engagements worldwide. It was nice to see how down to earth he really was.

So many of the people I knew would be there I literally only had time to say hello, hug-it-out & see you later since we were planning to attend different sessions.  I had planned out my day & even though it was turning out that I might not have done as much socializing as I originally intended I wanted to get certain things out of the experience.

My first break-out session was with Mandy Dwyer of Glimpses of Soul Photography.  All I can say is that Mandy had me wishing I could afford a DSLR camera, not to mention a new PC or Mac so I can load some new photo editing software.  I am already thinking even more about capturing photography vs just taking snapshots.  She delivered a crash course in lighting, composition editing & how to use photos to tell a story. Her notes are already up on her website if you are interested.  

Mandy also donated her time doing head shots, so of course I couldn't pass that opportunity up! Can't wait to see how they turned out. I heard $329.00 was raised for the event's charity: "READ INDEED" from the photos alone. Tremendous job!

&   were the panel members of "Building Communities Online and Offline" - my second session which was moderated by Kate O'Reilly.  

Some key takeaways:
1. Reminding people that they have permission to participate.
2. Give people multiple channels to engage with your community - not just your favorite one.
3. Have a great host - you have to be an organizer who delegates.
4. Reach out to people who may not have made your event & find out why, i.e. the "maybes"
5. It's OK to call the haters on your blog out! Just do it in a way that's not defensive & holds them accountable. (loved this one)

After a lovely & satisfying taco bar lunch and a couple of nice conversations with fellow attendees, which was free thanks to our sponsors Kare11, Top Rank Marketing & Allina Hospitals & Clinics, I went to "Advertisements, Endorsements and the Casual 'Like'" - led by Hayden O. Creque Esq. of Creque Law. 

NO SLEEPING was possible in this session. It was very lively & interactive to say the least!
If you are interested in a recap of what was discussed, visit Hayden's website where you will find a downloadable copy of the presentation

Just keep in mind these things:

1. "The Average blogger is held to a higher standard than celebrities."
2. "If there's a connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed."
3. "Value doesn't matter...It could be $1 or $1,000...It's about the relationship."

Hayden also made me laugh when he said in his Midwestern-modified Trinidad accent: "Straight Cash Homie" aka Randy Moss.

The final session I chose was Moving Your Blog to Wordpress, (so Blogger cover your ears,) by Tim Elliott.

Tim talked about versus  

"With the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team here at Automattic.  With you need to install the software on your own server or with a 3rd party provider."

He walked us through the costs of the different options. He promises that " is not that complicated once you get to know it ;-) " Luckily for me Blogger to Wordpress is one of the more streamlined transitions & size of the blog is not an issue - multiple attempts to import will eventually bring everything over. 

The biggest tip he gave us is something called WordPress TV.  I you have questions - this is the best resource he offered us - for people of all levels of tech-savviness. Tim also made his presentation available so we did not have to write or type furiously - we could try to concentrate on asking questions if need be.

Overall this year's conference flew by & I wish I had the opportunity to also sit in on some sessions by a few of my favorite people Erica Mayer, Kate Hopper, Paul DeBettignies & Patrick Rhone, so I hope they all also made their presentations available so I can go & check them out on my own time. Since I can't clone myself, that will have to do. 

The best part of the day? The conversations between the sessions - meeting new bloggers & seeing those you've met before, but don't get face time with often. It's something we all strive to do - making real connections offline.

Till next year...

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: My Lens Into The First Ever MN Blogger Conference

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday ~ Full Brain

It's Week 9 of my Stream of Consciousness Sunday posts. I took last week off because as a family we took our first overnight road trip together up north in Duluth, MN.  

I'm back in the saddle & am feeling mentally stuffed - my brain full - after an entire day of networking, learning & plain old socializing at Minnesota Blogger Conference 2011

I won't use this post as my recap - that will be another day, however I did want to say it was a totally different experience going into the event this year than last.  There was an anxiousness that I felt last year because I was totally green as a blogger.  I had no idea what to expect & I knew hardly anyone who would be there.  I had tweeted with folks but had met very few face to face.

This year I was surprised to have a couple people approach me & say "you look familiar, what's your blog's name" or "I think I follow you", which blew me away.  I had a few very in-depth conversations that left me knowing so much more about the other person than I thought I'd know coming out of this experience.

There's such a genuine feeling you get when you talk to people in the Twin Cities Blogging community.  It's like nothing else I've experienced.  It's warm, welcoming & inclusive.  For that I'm thankful. My guess is that many of us may be introverts & appreciate spending time with other people who want to get to us better & on a much deeper level ~ people who genuinely care what you have to say & take it to heart.

It's also a day of reflection in memory of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. None of us, however, will ever forget where we were that day & how we first learned of the horrific tragedy. Amongst those who lost loved ones, there are also the positive stories of children born on that fateful day.  May the Lord give us the strength to balance the pain with the joy and cherish the memories of the innocence we all lost watching those towers fall.  I'm very thankful that, as a country, we survived that traumatic day & grew stronger as a result.

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.

§         Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.

§         Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.

§         Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.

§         Link up your post at all.things.fadra

§         Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: My 9/11 Memories on Tumblr or  My Lens Into The First Ever MN Blogger Conference or Stream of Consciousness Sunday - The Pieces That Make Us Whole

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday - Another Year Wiser

Sometimes the most simple things in life bring you pleasure. Take these rather tart Early Blush Fireside Apples I bought at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago.  

Munchkin was satisfied to eat them as is. He loves every kind of apple, whether they are more tart or sweet. I had elaborate plans with what to do with them & tonight instead just tossed them with some Turbinado Sugar & Penzeys Spices Chinese Cassia Cinnamon to put over a scoop of ice cream.  

My mother, who I adore, was not the best baker in the world. She used to make my favorite dessert, fruit crisp, with canned Wilderness Apple or Cherry pie filling.  I loved eating crisp, but my favorite part was the crunchy oatmeal topping.  I used to dream of making the perfect apples for crisp, but from scratch. The canned filling was always much too sweet. I craved the taste of the fresh apples, slightly tart and slightly sweet.  My parents always gave me free reign to experiment with my baking in the kitchen & I love to cook today because of it.

This week I turned one year older and another year wiser. I find myself appreciating the more simple joys in my life.  Taking the time to cook more from scratch is one of those things.  The best compliment was my hubby shoveling big spoonfuls of the apples into his mouth, straight from the baking dish.  He told me how his Mom used to make apples for them that tasted just like these.  Too bad my Mother-in-Law wasn't right there to hear it! It was delicious indeed.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Wordless Wednesday - Patience Reaps Reward or Fall & all it's Local Glory

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Heavy Burden

Labor Day weekend is almost upon us.

It is a time of transition: summer to fall, kids back to school, no more wearing white..

For this week’s prompt, write about a season of change for your character or you. It can be literal or metaphorical.

Bear with me as I'm including more of these writing exercises into my blog - this is the first time in a very long time that I've attempted to write pure fiction. I did not take the time to name this character, I just let the words flow. Here it goes:

The days are already getting shorter and she is left wondering if her time is also slipping away.  It's been a year since the diagnosis.  The prognosis was initially a questionable one.  Depending on how the treatment progressed they would make a decision of  how much longer she would have to live.  It was a miracle they found the tumor at all and she was so very thankful that they did - yet she was terrified.

She had seen so many of the other patients in the last few months come into the office.  They had bonded - none of them really confident that the experimental treatments they had signed up for were going to work. But the possibility of finding a cure wasn't what they faced - they were avoiding the inevitable - pushing it away into the distance - one season at a time. 

She feels blessed to have had the time to stay at home and raise her children. Many of their friends have not been so fortunate having to juggle a full time job along with raising their kids. She has lost touch with a few of who used to be her closest friends - they have always been sympathetic of her condition, yes, but after a while it became increasingly hard not to become a little jealous of their good health.

She did not really know how to work through the feelings, so she chose to withdraw into her responsibilities with the family.  She found herself making excuses and keeping to herself more & more. 

So as Summer draws to a close, she finds herself wrapped up in the duties a mother generally takes on & her husband takes for granted.  Her oldest daughter is preparing to enter high school and has a list a mile long of more clothes she absolutely must have this year.  The middle child - a son is obsessed with nothing but football as he enters the 6th grade. Her baby boy is going into the third grade & is a total Momma's boy.

She plans her weekend in preparation for the week to come when all the kids will be back in school. So much left to do & so little time she uses the crafting room to spread out all the school supplies & separates them into piles to go into the kid's backpacks.  She wonders if she should be calling her husband into the room to watch her routine.  He's never needed to care before. She has always done everything. She has grown used to carrying the heavy burden of the household & her illness. He's always just been the breadwinner. 

She decides not to bother him with it & quickly wraps up the project. It's by then almost time to take her middle son to football practice & her youngest to a friend's home for a play date so she can finish up the last bit of clothes shopping with her daughter.   She calls out to the kids to gather their things & to get into the car.  She hates to be late.

After she drops off the boys, her daughter moves into the front seat of the car.  She takes a quick glance over at her & marvels at the beautiful young woman that she is becoming & her eyes begin to well up with tears.  She quickly wipes them away before her daughter can lock eyes with her & see that she is upset.  She says a little prayer that this Fall won't be her last.  She has so much left to live for & she knows how much her daughter is going to need a mother. She turns the key in the ignition, starts the car & quickly drives away.