Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Nope, that's not her, but instead exemplifies just how I feel...plumb tuckered out and like I could snuggle up and sleep for days. What happened? Weren't we just on a little break? Was turkey day honestly only a week ago?

Ever feel like you've lived a lifetime in one day?

It's after nine and I'm just getting home after a day full of the usual work day, helping this evening to build gifts and plan for tomorrow's special indoor market we're doing for work, and taking the only time T and I have together in the next 48 hours to purchase the necessary kitty accouterments before our new family member comes home Friday. Factor in a brief dining adventure at a little Mexican restaurant near the pet store and you've got my wild day in a nutshell.

Tired yet of hearing how tired I am of being tired?

Me, too.

Meditation has fallen a bit by the wayside. I waved longingly at the elliptical as I passed it after checking the mouse traps a few minutes ago. T's already snuggled up in bed. Thankfully, my canine partner in crime is curled up on the couch waiting until I'm ready to head upstairs. Which can't come too soon.

And what I'm thinking about is how I don't want, under any circumstances, for the next three weeks to be a rushed series of items checked off my to-do list. I put my foot down. Do you hear me??!? I just won't have it!

Ever seen a 41-year-old woman throw a tantrum? It's not pretty. And I'm within inches of making it a reality.

So, being the ever-optimistic and constructive soul that I am, I ask myself...

Self? What can we do differently here so that the holidays are manageable, and dare I say it, enjoyable?


Sometimes asking the question is the most important part. Have you found yourself asking it yet this season?

If my mind quiets down long enough to actually become acquainted with a REM sleep cycle for the first time this week, I might get lucky and some divine revelation will strike.

What??!? Stranger things have happened.

I'll sleep on it and let you know what I come up with tomorrow.

(By the way, newest Moe Marek came through surgery this morning like a champ and is resting peacefully at the vet's office for the next two nights...ready to go toe-to-toe with her puppy soon! Nighty night kiddo!)//

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Moe Marek

We are busier around here than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest...or so my husband likes to say!

Work for both is beyond crazy. I'm prepping for my evening side work of cutting and tying mass amounts of holiday ribbon with a glass of vino. There is a tree to put up, preferably when we are in a more energetic and festive spirit so that is put off for another day or so. There is a mild, craziness-induced food funk to spin out of (wouldn't it just be easier to eat out for the next three weeks until it's over??). A mild food funk which I'm working on tonight by giving T inspiration and letting him ride the wave...more on that below. And some shopping and household planning to do.

Holiday shopping?


Kitty shopping!

Well, not shopping for a kitty exactly, but shopping for the kitty. To adequately supply ourselves to bring her home, to our home, which makes our home more of a home.

What's been a'brewin' around here is that we're adopting a beautiful 8-month-old kitten. Katelyn, one of my lovely co-workers is moving at the end of the month (tomorrow!) and has to be minus said little black kitten by then. And is graciously allowing us to bring her into our fold of rascally rapscallions.

Yep...we've taken on one Moe Marek.

I've been talking about it with Katelyn -- and Terry -- for weeks. We've been hedging and hemming and hawing all month long. Even with the mouse population expanding (we're up to 30+ captures in the past 2-3 weeks) and the potential mouse-aversion-related-perks having a cat could affect, we couldn't make a decision.

I realize now that we couldn't decide because we kept focusing on the negative, what introducing a kitty into our lives would cost us -- physically, mentally, financially. What we didn't account for was the benefits.

We were dependent on choosing with our heads, not our hearts.

When Katelyn brought the kitty over last night for a visit -- I think as much for her to feel comfortable with the home we could provide as much as for us to see how the kitty might get along with Trooper, and us, we melted. OK, I'll speak for myself (T has a reputation as a non-cat preferrer to protect) -- I melted. The moment she crawled into my arms I was had.

And what struck me in that moment was that I kept saying no to a new member of our family because I was too afraid to open my heart.

It's the same thing that kept my mom saying she would never have another dog when she had to put her last one down a couple years ago.

She adopted a puppy this past summer.

It's the same thing that kept me from ever inviting another cat into my life after my furry childhood chum died of cancer -- the morning after I told her she didn't need to hold on any longer, that I would be OK -- nearly 20 years ago.

Until now. I guess I'm a little slower on the uptake...

How can I be so unafraid of my own death and so devastated by the thought of the mortality of those around me?

So much so that I didn't want to open my home or my heart to another living being. Not another one. Not now with the only other animal companion I've ever had turning 13 years old and nearing the inevitable end of her life (but, come on, aren't we all??).

Aren't I just asking for trouble?

Until I held the kitty in my arms and felt how much more complete our lives would be by expanding our family and opening ourselves to another being, I never realized what I was turning my back on in my quest for safety -- the joy of fully living life.

It's the fight between the rational mind who believes that hurt is the only thing that could possibly result from recklessly opening our hearts to one another, and the heart that yearns for that unequivocal connection. For the simple experience of opening ourselves to the mystery of the unknown. Of opening ourselves to Love.

It feels like a small triumph to follow heart over mind...again. To give into the irrational desire for communion in a world that likes to remind us we're alone. To allow the wisdom of intuition to trump the Fear that can rule our lives if we let it.

Why not be a little reckless if it means our heart learns to grow, like the Grinch's, three sizes each day? What else is this life for?

Stay tuned for pics of the puddy-tat. She will be with us for good -- and the shenanigans will begin -- on Friday...when I rescue her from the vet where she goes to get her important kitty surgeries tomorrow morning. Good luck, baby!//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
T does his best cooking when he's offered a challenge, even when he's not in the mood for it. I was in the mood for one of his impromptu pasta dishes, so I went to the store, picked up red pepper, asparagus, green onions, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes, a carton of organic cream (what can I say? The girl wants what the girl wants...) and said, well?

Even though he's exhausted, he met the challenge and got to work. 

If it matters...the wine is mine. :)

A tablespoon of Pino's Press Garlic Gusto olive oil (which is AMAZING -- we sell it at the bakery BTW), sauteed veggies and more garlic (YUM), a splash of white wine, fresh-dried basil and thyme from the garden.

Finished with a touch (or two) of cream. Sniff, sniff...sooooooo good!

Can't even tell he's shredding a little parm over the top, can you? I mean besides the mean top shadowing and all...

The professional dude garnishes!

Super sauce served over angel hair pasta and finished with love!


Thanks, my dear! Over the top delicious as I knew it would be. Here...let me get the dishes...

Whew! Food funk averted for another night!

What inspires you this evening?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deep Thought

If the earth were only a few feet in diameter, floating a few feet above a field somewhere, people would come from everywhere to marvel at it, declare it sacred and protect it. ~Joe Miller

A quote that made me think...and you?

There's something a-brewing at the Marek household so this is all there's time for tonight. More tomorrow...

Nighty night!//

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Live Strong

This morning was windy and cold, minus the inch of snow we were supposed to get. We're nearing the day we put up our tree and without any of the white stuff on the ground, it's a little tough to get in the spirit. I guess the tree will have to wait another day.

These guys didn't mind the delay in snow...

I'm sure they're happy to wait for as long as possible.

And since I just planted some spring onions yesterday, I guess I shouldn't complain, either... my jammies, no less! : ) In the end of November!

In Minnesota!


What we were in the mood for this morning was...


If you recall my post pre-holiday-vacation, pancakes topped the list (or at least frequented it) of fun things to do during our break. This morning was our second pancake morning, albeit our first with pumpkin!

YUM! Look at the color of that batter! Chock full of pumpkiny goodness.

Kodiak Cakes are our new favorite pancake mix. 100% whole grain (because of my job at the bakery, you already know I'm a fan) though they don't taste heavy or tough like you might expect. And they're full of the best, natural ingredients. The most intriguing part is they are so easy! Just add water. How can something this good be that easy??!? I know what you're thinking, but trust me...they are fantastic!

T's even thinking that they're so easy, Kodiak Cakes will make their debut in the Boundary Waters next summer.

Now that's an endorsement!

Just for fun this morning, I thought I'd caramelize some bananas as well. Soooooo good!

Aren't they beautiful?

Just 1 cup of Kodiak Cake mix, 3/4 cup of water and the magical addition of 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree and 1/8 tsp of pumpkin pie spice.

T's plate, ready to go...

...and mine with an egg for protein. I always need an egg if it's a breakfast on the swedish sweet-ish side.

You don't really taste the pumpkin so much, even with the pumpkin pie spice, but it gives the cakes a wonderful, super fluffy texture. Can't beat that.

Our next spontaneous morning adventure involved...

...finishing the Big Build.

And here she is!

A Livestrong LS10.0E with extra wide footbeds for a variety of foot placement,

zero clearance between the pedals so that it's comfortable for both she (5' 5") and him (6' 3"),

and a readout/computer that tracks workout information for two main users and guests. There are 10 different workouts, 20 levels of power incline and a USB stick to go onto Lance's website and download additional workouts to add to the elliptical's computer and the opportunity to participate in their online community.

I never thought I'd say I love a piece of workout equipment but so far, I do. As soon as we got it fully assembled I hopped on. Holy crap am I out of shape!

I love the zero clearance between pedals and the wide footbeds -- this is what I've always hated about ellipticals in the gym. It always seemed like they didn't quite fit. This one?

Like a glove.

What's great is that after a little 20 minute jaunt on this, I was warmed up enough, pumped full of happy endorphins to consider going out in the cold and wind to take Trooper for a walk around the neighborhood.

How could I resist when she got so excited when I was putting my tennis shoes on? Wish I had a picture of the face she made...ears perked and the very tip of her tail wagging. For 13, she's still got some tricks up her sleeve. And was more than happy for a two mile sniffing adventure...despite the wind.

As long as the snow holds and there is no road salt on the ground, this might just get me out in the cold more for walking the pup!

The other cool part of the Livestrong is that a portion of the purchase goes to support the foundation. If we're going to go to the big box store and make a major purchase (where else can you find something like this??), it may as well be benefiting such an important cause.

What feels better about the elliptical at home already is how easy it is to just bust downstairs and put in a few minutes. Even if it's just 20 minutes...15 minutes...10's something. Never a wasted trip -- I used to think that a lot during last fall's gym membership...I wouldn't want to bother changing clothes and going if I didn't feel like I could pull off a full hour of something.

And when you're starting over, so to speak, you've got to start somewhere.

In celebration of my breaking-in session and our walk -- and because T had a bunch of buds over to watch the football game -- I had the last...

...beautiful pumpkin ale of the season.

Sniff, sniff...

...but alas, that means it's time for Winter Ale season! : )

I went to get the guys some 'za's from Papa Murphy's.

Good thing there was a vegetarian in the bunch so I could have my favorite Gourmet Veggie! Thanks, Loren!

After a brief afternoon snooze (what else is a Sunday for??), T built a fire and we snuggled up for our last-evening-of-vacation-oh-crap-we-have-to-go-back-to-work-tomorrow night.

Ah, what an amazing long weekend it has turned out to be.

How are you spending your Sunday night?//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Our eating schedule is just so far off...a late lunch of pizza means no need for dinner. Maybe a snack before bed?

Perhaps the last pumpkin pancake hanging out in the fridge is calling my name...

Peaceful dreams to one and all!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful, Part Deux

Yep, today we head to Terry's brother's house and do it all again...full on turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, gravy. Our car will be full with us, T's parents and his aunt, whom we will pick up on the way. Trooper will have to sit this one out.

The big difference this time is a marginally shorter drive and a need to save room for dessert -- I have never liked pumpkin pie so traditional turkey day desserts doesn't phase me. T's sis-in-law's infamous Caramel Apple Pie on the other hand (I'll try to get the recipe for you later!)... I'm sugar-shaking in my boots already just thinking about it!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday meal, so I don't mind doing it twice. Ha! Actually, this is our third -- the first was with our friend's we hadn't seen in a long time last weekend. It would be unfair to lose count with all the hard work everyone's putting in. Again, so very grateful that we're off the hook this year. For as much as we love to cook, not cooking a holiday spread is pretty nice sometimes, too.

And with all the indulging, comes an even greater need for the elliptical...which still isn't usable yet, but I promise pictures when it is! Not that you haven't seen one before, but I think this one is cool.

Now, you may remember my post last January about joining and then canceling at the gym. About how I had no interest in owning exercise equipment, about how I was happier doing nothing than that kind of contrived exercise. Yes, it's true. It may just be this time of year, staring down the barrel of winter and knowing that while we'll still get outside, having our physical activity weather and daylight dependent is a challenge. So it gets me thinking about what we can do instead.

I'll call it being resourceful.

Yoga, most definitely. AND it's become clear in the past year that unless I am able to commit to a daily yoga asana practice -- which again, my mind loves the thought of but maybe my body not so much -- I need to find more. Cross-training. I am keenly aware of the need to find multiple things I can do that engage me, that I won't get bored with. Maybe the elliptical at home will be different?  Maybe the kind we got will be an improvement over what I've used before at the club. It isn't insanity if we're trying something somewhat new, is it?

Maybe it will be, but who's worth a try.

I do still agree that contrived exercise is a pain in the tookus. I still agree that I don't want to make my house a full service gym. But, if I have such an aversion to going to the club and being a gerbil on a machine with everyone else, it's worth a different kind of spin on the same old story.

Gotta keep moving.

A moving body is a happy body. Past injuries and ailments aside, there must be something that fits. It's important to keep exploring what works.

To find what works and help it stick. Today, I am more than a little grateful to be in a position to give this angle a go.

What have you found that works best for you?//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Nothing. I imagine our earlier turkey day feast will be just enough to last all evening long.

What are you having?

A joyful evening to you and yours!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gut Check

What an adventure the past 48 hours have been!

First, Terry was featured in an article written by Bill Ward of the Minneapolis Star Tribune about changing traditions for the holidays. How cool is that??!? We purchased a paper Thursday morning after our early morning walk at the farm...

(My loves! Doesn't Trooper look thrilled??)

...looking for the article but couldn't find it. Did I mention we never buy the paper? What a bummer! I did, however, find the article on the website today -- looks like it might have been in Wednesday's paper instead of Thursday's as we thought it was. Anyway, fun to see our names in print (well, on the web without us putting it there, anyway!).

As I mentioned, we had our early morning Thanksgiving walk -- our little tradition celebrating each other, Nature, the gift of Ritter Farm and time off doing what we love together. Who knew it would be nearly 50 degrees and the snow we received last weekend would be all but gone! Glorious! And gave us more to be grateful for.

Ah, to be so spoiled!

And talk about spoiled, look who showed up at the feeder to wish us a happy turkey day??!?

Looks to me like he was just grateful it wasn't him! (Hi buddy! Safe travels South!)

We picked up my grandma...

 ...and drove to my aunt's house near St. Cloud for Thanksgiving dinner.

Even Trooper got to come...and gladly took up more than her share of the backseat snoozing on my leg on the drive up and back!

After a fantastic dinner (Mark, how did you get that turkey so tender??!?), much festive catching up with my uncle's side of the family and one of my cousins (sorry we missed you Mandy!), we headed home to get my grandma home by dark. Why by dark? Let's face it, when you're on the cusp on your 87th birthday, you just get to want what you want...and get it, too!

I am so grateful after such a busy week to be so warmly offered the beautiful meal we had. Camaraderie, good wine (thanks, honey), great great food (thanks, m+n+all!).  Missed my brother's family as they were celebrating with my sister-in-law's side this turkey day, and my dad's family who live in Michigan, but we've learned over the years to simply enjoy who shows up when we're all taking turns.

After we got home, still stuffed to the brim, we hopped into our snugglies and did none other than go through those pesky ads in the twenty pound newspaper we didn't need to buy that morning.  I wrote out Christmas cards (I know, right??!? It's not even December!), T paged the ads and took notes, and Trooper snoozed the evening away.  We joked about how we'd get up in the middle of the night and go shopping.

Yeah, right.

And then woke up, both of us, without an alarm at 5am...the exact time Dick's sporting goods was to open full of sales on treadmills. So we did what any well-respecting capitalist would do.

We got up and went shopping!  And giggled all the way to...

 ...Best Buy. I mean, who does this??!? Middle of the night shopping...notice the police car? The cops were out in droves this morning! Crazy!

T was bound and determined to get a TV for the office so he can whistle watch while he works on his endless photo organization projects.

Happy boy! He saved nearly $300 on this little thing. I fear I'll never see him again...but at least his pictures will finally be organized...right? Right??!?

And then we meandered over to...

...Dick's to go treadmill shopping. And then came out having purchased an elliptical machine. Huh?

And I'll tell you why.

I was set on a treadmill even though I had been talking about an elliptical forever. We had picked out a treadmill (the sales on everything were incredible!) when T said, "Are you sure you don't want to check out the ellipticals? I only bring it up because that's what you were talking about before." Dear man!

But, of course I was sure.

Until I wasn't.

See, I took that smallest of moments to tune in, to check in with my gut -- I had been talking up the ellipticals like crazy after all -- and realized I had become hell-bent on the treadmill because at some point, my mind had conjured up this incredible idea of my beginning to run again. Oh, you know, just a few minutes here and there couldn't hurt.

Uh huh. Right.

Perhaps it's all the healthy living blogs I've been reading -- the vast majority of these women run, talking blissfully about their latest 5 miles around town or the neighborhood in the chill of the gorgeous fall morning. Idyllic! Perhaps it's my sister-in-law who, after the toll giving birth to three incredible children must make on one's body, has taken up running and is kicking butt, just having completed her first half-marathon, wearing a halloween costume no less. She rocks!

I want to run! My mind wants me to be cool just like them! My mind wants me to run!

But in light of my post a few days back about minding your body I am reminded that my mind likes it better than my body does. In fact, after I herniated two disks in my low back a year and a half ago, I was told that it is something I'll have to be mindful of for the rest of my life. While I'm not prone to believe everything the docs tell me -- I've developed a very healthy skepticism with medical professionals over the years -- even if I do manage to heal my way into complete back health, there's no doubt that my mind likes running better than my body does. Given my history, doing any regular physical activity that requires excessive amounts of impact is just asking for trouble.

And of course, my mind was trying to weasel its agenda into my thought processes again.

Rascally rabbit!

I am forever grateful for a hubby who can help remind me to tune in even when I forget to. And for my intuition who holds all of my right answers and never gives up.

So, an elliptical it was. A nicer one than I ever knew they made and very reasonably priced. We'll be calling this one an early Christmas present.

If I can ever get it put together...Trooper's already bored with the whole dang thing!

Doesn't look too complicated does it??


But we must have made the right choice because when we left Dick's, this is the magical sky we witnessed...

We had to pull over at a neighborhood lake to take this one...

Thank you, Mother Nature!

Who knew waking up so early and going shopping would pay off like this??!?

If that wasn't enough to make the day a winner already by 7am, as I was working on getting the treadmill together this afternoon, the mail came and delivered me this little box of goodies...

...from my very own soap-making guy, Scott, at Rock River Soap Company! I keep trying to remember where I found his products, but I can't for the life of me. A farmer's market somewhere? Regardless, it seems like it's been about 10 years since I've been ordering from him in nearby swissconnie (a.k.a. Wisconsin). I order about once per year, a selection of soaps and my favorite lotion, and have gotten my sis-in-law and her mom and a good friend hooked as well. I kid you is the best handmade stuff I've ever found (and man, I've tried a lot of it!) and is the only bar soap I use. Ever.

Wanna give it a go?

Scott handcrafts these incredible, all-natural soaps using only the best base ingredients and essential oils. He blends the most yummy smelling scent combinations, putting them to his soaps, lotion, oils and this time around, bath salts...I simply told him what scents I tend to like (lavender, mints, grapefruit, chamomile, orange, ylang ylang, cinnamon, to name a few...) and he created two different blends for me.

What a treat! Check out his website and send him an email ( with questions and/or your order. This is a guy who absolutely loves what he does and it shows. You won't be disappointed.

Thanks Scott, for following your passion! The rest of us are endlessly fortunate to benefit from your loving what you do!

Don't forget to tell him I sent you!

It feels like Christmas today...minus the snow and the tree. But worth every nutty, spontaneous, love and intuition-filled moment of it.//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Turkey enchiladas, anyone? I'll be handcrafting my homemade guac to boot. Simple. Easy. Delicious. There's one way to use up some leftovers!

1 avocado, scooped into a bowl
2-3 green onions, chopped
6-8 grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced into the bowl
lots of chopped cilantro (to taste)
s+p, to taste
a dash of cayenne
a few dashes of Penzy's Adobo seasoning
if you like-a-da-spice, a seeded, chopped serrano pepper will do the trick.

Mix it all up with a spoon, squashing the avocado as necessary. Serve with tortilla chips (my favorite local greats!) and a smile!

Have a great evening : )

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Leisure is the exultation of the possible. ~Martin Buber

Huzzah! (seemed like an "exultation" sort of word...)

It's likely I should be taking this time to wax poetic about Thanksgiving, about the holiday season, about gratitude and humility and all of it, but not right now. Perhaps tomorrow??!?

No. Right now it is time for something else.  For a different kind of joy than the grateful for friends and family and the holiday season kind of joy. The main thing floating my boat in this particular moment is the fact that I am done with work for the week. As I sit to write, I find that I'm insanely and irrationally happy about having the next four days off.


Sometimes, any break is the best break.  And knowing it's longer than a weekend, two little old days, feels decadent and like I'm being spoiled.  Yes, we have two holiday gatherings that we'll be party to, but other than that, no plans.

Anything is possible.

How I adore that blank canvas stretched out before me. Minimal plans, negligible chores, just the open space of everything or nothing to build my days on. An opportunity to ask my heart what it wants and to truly listen, unencumbered by the usual obligations that pepper my work days.

Sleep in? Walks in the woods? Pancakes? Lay on the couch and read a book -- maybe even a WHOLE book? How 'bout some pancakes? Have a game night? Cook a fun dinner? Yoga class? Pancakes? Plant those pesky onion sets I got last week and didn't get in the ground because it snowed...and now it's 50 degrees out there??!? Call up a friend? More pancakes? More writing? Painting? Give myself a pedicure? Sit and watch the birds and the squirrels for as long as I'd like?

Go for a ride in the car (OK, that one was for Trooper's benefit as she is pacing around me, impatient with my clickety clacking) and get some Thai food for dinner (now my tail's wagging!) since T has to do a tasting this evening?

Did I happen to mention the pancakes? We really like our late morning breakfasts around here...

I'm being my dog, my heart and my stomach alike.

What will you allow to unfold this holiday weekend? Whatever it is, may it bring your heart joy.//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Yep, you guessed it (wily ones that you are!) -- Thai food from Taste of Thaiyai. It occurs to me I may have written about them before. Hmm. I LOVE their food, they are a small family owned place near us and it is always fantastic.

Nice to know that my biggest decision tonight is what to order...either the glorious pad thai or another favorite, Pra Ram Long Song, peanut curry over steamed spinach. YUM!

As much as I've enjoyed our endless eating away from home this past week, I will be even more excited to do a little meal planning, buy some groceries and cook. You know, for a change.

Oops! I guess I do have a goal for my time off...

Relaxing evening to one and all! : )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Girl's Best Friend

It's not what you're thinking.  I bet you're expecting I'll say... husband...or... dog.


This girl's best fried is none other than...

...a neti pot!

A what?

This little allergy sufferer and one who it seemed once-upon-a-time could get sick simply being in the same room with someone with the sniffles, is in love with her neti pot.  Weird, but true.

A neti pot is a small pot that you fill with warm water and a particular amount of non-iodized salt to flush your nasal cavities.  You tilt your head a little to the side, put the spout in one nostril and as you tilt further, the water will simply travel through the naval cavity and out the other nostril. This video demonstrates how to do it.

This practice has been followed for thousands of years, originating with ayurvedic medicine -- yoga's sister science -- and is still widely practiced in India.

Why would you do such a thing??!?

After work at the bakery inhaling flour dust, after a day out in the garden digging in the dirt, when spring is in full bloom, if I'm out and it's really dusty and windy, after I'm with the kiddos during cold and flu season -- or anyone else who's sick for that matter -- I use my neti pot.  Such a simple thing to do. And not only are my allergies next to nothing these days (along with some other natural remedies I'll tell you about some day soon), I haven't had so much as a cold in about two years...interestingly, exactly the amount of time I've been using it.

I don't do it every day...just as needed. And mostly, I let my body tell me when it needs it.

See? I listen!

These days, you can pick a neti pot up at your local drugstore for about $12. This is how I started. After about six months, the plastic one began to irritate me, so I graduated to a ceramic one that I bought at Valley Natural Foods near our house...but you could probably find ceramic ones also at Whole Foods or a health food/vitamin store.

A word to the careful of wet ceramic, as it is extremely slippery and easy to drop...and break. Which is why I have to admit I'm on my second of the nice ones. Oops!

Between the video and the instructions you'll get in your brand new neti pot (you're going to get one now, aren't you??!?), and a little bit of courage and a sense of adventure on your part, you're good to go.  The trickiest part, in my book, is getting the right amount of depends on your own pH level so it takes a little time to get the mix just right.

If you're feeling daring -- or are just plain old sick and tired of being sick and tired and sniffly -- and want to give it a try, I'd love to hear how it goes. It's worth it, I promise! And if you have any questions, I'd love to help!

Any other neti pot lovers out there?  Share your story!//

What's For Dinner Tonight?
Our impromptu Friends and Family Week continues...this time with my lazy butt next to T's lazy butt on the couch across the room from Trooper's lazy butt in her bed. Doing something exciting like watching NCIS or DVR'd episodes of Oprah's Lifeclass (OK, I'd be in bed doing that by myself...perhaps with Trooper's lazy butt in bed next to me).

So dinner is the epitome of low-key...rotisserie chicken, the sweet potatoes and baby reds I roasted on Sunday and a salad. Mellow, easy eat-on-the-couch fare. Works for me tonight.

Especially after last night's expedition to Carmelo's, which was TO DIE FOR! Everything about it was awesome. Highly recommended by this bunch!

As discussed yesterday, all is made from scratch at this humble little restaurant on Snelling and St. Clair in St. Paul.

Here are the wines we tasted last night...our friends brought the first and T brought the others. I love places that let you bring your own wine and only charge a small corkage fee!

'Ze menu...

Appetizers of calamari (awesome!)...

...and baked ravioli (awesomer!)

Salad with peppercorn ranch dressing...not sure if they make this themselves but it's really good!

 Her entree: butternut squash ravioli with prosciutto and a sage cream sauce (!),

and his entree: good old spaghetti and meatballs (now that's a spicy meatball!) Fantastic!

And homemade (what else!!?) tiramisu.  Hold on to your hats for this one!

It's THAT good!

Nighty lazy night one and all!