Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

At my new job, Halloween is a big deal. There was no way I could pull an "Oh, I forgot," what with the posters in the bathroom reminding me of the costume contest.

It felt odd to wake up on Monday, put on a martini dress and glitter eyelashes, and head to work. Thankfully only one small child did a double-take.

Holli, who was one of the winners, came as Darla from Finding Nemo. She made her own headgear with earring backs and a lot of creativity. And Dallas was a turd. An artfully draped turd, complete with fart gun.

People really committed. Steph, whose face was covered, could only see large objects. And the creative team made their own video.

Still, I was happy to have nabbed a premade costume from Goodwill. Another Halloween survived!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dream Team 2016

I get a little stressed thinking about what I need to do before my move. There are goodbye dinners to be had and boxes to be packed and U-verse modems to be shipped (really, AT&T?).

But then I remember Gina's advice: "Don't think about the big picture." Good idea, particularly when I overanalyze things that aren't likely to happen. Sometimes I talk myself out of opportunities, but this last month has really shown me what is possible.

March 2012: Gina, Yvonne, Patrice & me in Indian Wells
It's fitting that Gina was the one to give this advice.

Four and half years ago, our tri-level team went to California and played at Nationals. Cheesy as it may sound, it was a dream come true. The journey had everything: triumph, tears, and some heartbreaking losses. To get to play in Indian Wells was a high point of my tennis career. Getting there might've been unlikely, but it was always possible.

August 2016: Gina, Yvonne, Patrice & me at Highlander
Four and a half years later, we reunited to play some doubles. After the great tennis, we enjoyed lunch at El Jefe. We ate everything: tacos, quesadillas, and lots of chips. To get to play and hang out with the Dream Team again was a high point of my last week in Milwaukee. They'll always remind me of all that is possible.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The tennis tribe

To my Milwaukee tennis friends,
Thank you for the memorable send-off party. For going to four stores to find the perfect ingredients for sloppy joes. For the taco wontons that were such a hit I didn't get to try them. And for the oatmeal chocolate chip bars and the gooey brownies. This group knows how to party and potluck.

I'm blown away by your thoughtfulness and creativity. I love the luggage, which makes me look forward to living out of a suitcase. And the Starbucks and the candy (which I may or may not have started eating already) to keep me peppy during the drive to Nebraska. Thursday Night Ladies, thank you for the engraved pen and journal to chronicle my new adventures.

Thank you for your friendship, for all the phone calls and you-got-this conversations. Even you, Doug, for the tough love that very first week! I'm glad you knew in December how happy I'd be now.

I'll miss you all, but I know it won't be long until I come back for a visit, asking (demanding?) to play the ad side. Thanks for always making room for one more.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Freckles thinks out of the box

Yesterday I came home and Freckles greeted me at the door. Which would've been cute had I not left him in his crate. His locked crate.

I inspected the house. No accidents, no tchotchkes destroyed. There was but one telltale sign: Wrinkles on my bedspread.

He's not allowed on my bed.

How did he get out? Will this happen again? Is it a sign of separation anxiety? So many questions. The sleuthing begins.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hello, Freckles!

Freckles, my very first foster dog, came home with me Monday. He's a four-year-old mini Aussie and is settling in well.

Having lived on a farm, he's making the transition to city life: fences, sidewalks, the bass sounds of rap. But whether he's on a leash or on the couch, he's quickly gaining confidence and loves people.

He will gently paw for attention, then bam bam bam, he marches like a cat. Oh no, Freckles, please don't smack me in the face!

Of course he reminds me of my other dogs. Like Chewy, he eats calmly, almost leisurely, and takes treats like they're no big deal. But he has Papaya's clinginess; he always wants to know where I am and will wait near the landing while I do laundry.

He's sweet and has adorable spots (uh, freckles) on his nose and paws. I hope you'll come by and meet him!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lemon poppy seed pancakes

I made these pancakes for brunch and Sandy and Jeff requested the recipe — which is the highest form of flattery except for eating a third serving.

The original recipe has you make curdled milk by adding white vinegar; I prefer to just use buttermilk. Also, both versions are faintly lemony. Not super-lemony like those lemon smack-in-the-face cookies I made for that royal wedding brunch years ago. One last thing: Poppy seeds add a certain je ne sais quoi, but I actually don't know what that is. I may try these with blueberries instead.

Lemon poppy seed pancakes 
Serves 4 (or 3, if you eat like us)
¾ cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
2 Tbsp melted butter (plus extra for cooking)
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp lemon zest

1. Stir the buttermilk and lemon juice together in a bowl. Whisk in the egg, butter, and vanilla.

2. In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk a few times (lumps are okay; don't overmix or your pancakes will be chewy).

3. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat with melted butter. Scoop ¼ cup of batter onto the pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancakes with a spatula and brown the other side.

PS: There are a bunch of tips at The Secrets to Making Great Pancakes. (Rest the batter to relax the gluten? Who knew?)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Holly the houseguest

Holly stayed with me again. Nervous at first, she'd only take her meals on the living room armchair, eating while I sat next to her holding the bowl.

But soon she was more her hammy self, squeaking about walks, belly rubs, and chewy treats. She tolerated storms yet ran away from mashed potatoes. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes?

She was quick to warm up to Sandy. It took only a few minutes before Holly got on the couch to offer her bad breath. But then Hollytosis was standoffish with Denise and Michelle. Who can know what goes on in a dog's mind? Hal says she's not self-aware.

Which could maybe explain why she'd wedge herself into the couch and under the covers, then try to kick me out of the way. Still, I enjoyed her company. Come back soon, little space invader!