Go, Kenosha!

I feel like the hometown girl has won Miss America! I have never lived in Kenosha, but I consider it a home for my heart – my mom grew up there, along with her five sisters, two brothers and large Irish-Italian extended family. My grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins still call it home.

My grandfather’s father immigrated there from Italy, along with a lot of fellow Italians from Cosenza. He married a French – Canadian gal whose family had immigrated from Quebec. He worked in a mattress factory and never learned how to read or write in English, but after he retired, he spent his time biking around the city bringing flowers and visiting with people in the local hospitals. His son, my grandpa has followed his example and has always been very involved in making the city of Kenosha a wonderful place to live through his hard work, and involvement in numerous civic groups. And he always had time to joke with us when we came to visit.

My grandmother, too has spent her life making Kenosha a wonderful place by teaching preschool for years, and always having a welcoming, spotless home with scrumptious spaghetti and meatballs. And don’t forget the Knox blocks waiting for us when were kids. I am so proud  of my grandparents, if you can’t tell. So Kenosha will always be one of my hometowns!

Never mind that I have always lived in Minnesota.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Mmmm, just had the last of the sweet potatoes, and came up with another creative use for jellied cranberry sauce – salad dressing. It was fabulous on my romaine and pecan salad.

Another creative way that I have found to eat cranberry sauce – oatmeal mix-in.

Though I am enjoying the challenge of finding ways to eat 4 cups of leftover cranberry sauce, next year I will only serve one can of sauce instead of three!

I’m cheating this year

The first time I made mashed potatoes 15+ years ago, they turned out quite well. The next time I made them, five years later, they turned into glue. The third time I tried to make them, they were very lumpy. I know that was in style at the time, but my husband does not like lumpy. I managed, with help from friends who were over at the time, to get them down to “grainy.” I would have preferred lumpy, but at least my husband could get them down, since they were a consistent texture – consistently bad, but consistent.

So this year, I am cheating. No mashed potatoes at our “week-before-Thanksgiving” traditonal Thanksgiving meal. I’m baking up some small red potatoes smothered in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic. Everything tastes better with garlic!


Two weekends ago our family was able to spend a little time along the North Shore. For non-Minnesotans, that is the north shore of Lake Superior. When looking at a map, it really seems to be more the west shore of Lake Superior, but for some reason, unknown to me, we call it the North Shore. Can any of you Duluthians tell me why it is called the North Shore?

We visited Tettegouche State Park, getting there just before lunch. After hiking about 15 minutes we found a beautiful overlook at the start of Shovel Point. Another couple was just finishing up eating as we arrived. As they moved on, we settled into our usual picnic lunch of summer sausage, chips, baby carrots, apple wedges and juice boxes.

We had been munching about 3 minutes when my husband noticed we had a visitor. It never ceases to amaze me that the squirrels in protected wildlife areas are so much more tame than the squirrels in my own back yard. I guess it makes sense, as there are not numerous people sitting in my yard eating food everyday, leaving behind crumbs and purposely throwing out snacks. But I still find it to be an oxymoron to find tame wildlife in the wild, and wild wildlife in my suburban neighborhood.

I know that Funyuns and potato chips are not healthy food for red squirrels. They really aren’t very healthy for people, either. But he was so cute, we just couldn’t help but leave him some. When he came across a tiny piece of chip, he quickly ate it. But the apple wedge was grabbed up and whisked off down the boardwalk.

A minute or so later, he was back looking for more. This time, he found the Funyun. He took a nibble, then decided that should be whisked off, too. We were done with our lunch so took off after him, trying to see where his cache was. We saw him zip up into an evergreen, then jump back down and disappear deeper into the woods.

Upon close inspection of the evergreen,
this is what we found about five feet up!

Hopefully he remembers where he put it before someone else comes along to enjoy it! The next day, while driving home in a soft rain, I wondered about the Funyun, hoping it had been enjoyed before the rain melted it away.

This made me think of Matthew 6:19-20:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

My kids wanted me to blog this…

A week or so ago our minivan died. After taking it to several shops and pouring several thousand dollars into it, it still didn’t run properly. So we donated it to a school that fixes cars, and bought a new vehicle.

Our family tries to eat gluten-free, and as any of you who eat GF know, everything GF is a lot crumblier than its glutinous counterpart. Well, the first day that I was picking the kids up from school in the new car, I baked some GF cookies. I brought them as an after-school snack. But I forgot to bring some napkins.

As all of you will elementary students can remember, you put a lot of time and effort in nagging, cajoling, bribing, shaming, threatening, whatever it takes to get your kids to learn to use napkins or facial tissue instead of some other nearby fibers, such as clothes.

So needless to say, my kids think it is absolutely hilarious (they are still laughing about it two weeks later) that when I picked them up from school that day, these are the directions they received:

“I forgot to pack napkins, so if you get crumbs all over your fingers, please wipe them on your pants, do not wipe them on the car.”