Wisconsin in Winter

Hi friends!!  We’re just back from our stay in Wisconsin with our kids– John & Laurel.  Those two know how to make everything fun.  So here’s my favorite– “Great Eight” things we did for our Wisconsin winter!!

#1.  One afternoon Larry and I trekked down to the campus of University of Wisconsin, for a stroll through the campus, a stop for the best ice cream (from their dairy department!) and a walk on the frozen lake!!  yikes!


#2.  We also studied our way through the Chazen Art Museum on campus one afternoon– small, but with a wide range of art from around the world and across genres.


#3.  Saturday morning we browsed at the indoor Farmers Market, where each week a different restaurant in Madison, serves up a wholesome breakfast (That week was root veggie hash!!)


#4.  On a blustery afternoon Laurel ferried us over to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens to wander through their greenhouse tropical garden– lush and warm and filled with singing canaries!

#5.  We tagged along with John & Laurel and their realtor Wade, while they did a little house hunting around Madison (But are still looking to find the perfect place).

#6.  Our most Wisconsin-ish adventure was an evening at the Fishing Expo– I had no idea there are so many many accessories to fishing, from boats to lures to wall mounted trophy fish!


#7.  Madison has a gorgeous new library downtown so one day we hiked down past the capital building and on to the library, where we raided the new book section an sat and read to our hearts content.  (P.S. the sculpture on the library wall is all made of battered old bookends!)


#8.  And last but sure not least, we had several wonderful meals with Laurel and John– starting with an assortment of coffee shops, a few morning walks to Bath Bakehouse, Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (the Best Pizza!), fashionable Mint Mark Cafe for breakfast, Noddle’s & Company Pad Thai, and our very own John’s incredible burgers at home!



Loved every minute with our John and Laurel.  They know how to hug and talk to and feed visiting parents in the very best sort of way!  Thanks you two!!  We can’t wait to come back to Madison…

Quilt of Many Colors

Hi there– Finished stitching up this quilt for our Laurel– She and John are getting married in August this is their wedding quilt.  She has always been our most “colorful” child–so when I handed over my Pinterest quilt idea board, I wasn’t surprised when she picked this bright quilt!


It was super fun to work on with all the variety color and shapes!! –with a soft green patterned flannel backing.  About 100 hours of stitching– plenty of time to sit in front of HGTV!!  And also some quiet time to sit and stitch and pray for Laurel and John and all they good years they have ahead…

So happy for you dear girl– You’ve made our lives fuller with all your colorful adventures, including your purple tinged hair!!

(Almost) Winter in Madison!



Hi hi– back from a week with our Laurel in Madison, WI.  I booked this trip anticipating snow up to my waist, icy winds and swirling snowflakes.  But, surprise!, it was all sunshine and balmy days.

Even without snow, it was a sweet time with that girl of ours.  Laurel is the best best travel buddy.  Here’s what we do — tourist, shop, eat.  Repeat.  So here’s a little of each in the dead of Wisconsin winter!

Our winter “touristing” included frozen lakes, state park look outs and a woodsy museum.

Here we are astride Lake Menona (don’t ask me why I thought that was a good idea!)


Brave people ice fishing on the lake– and ice at the lake’s edge.
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One afternoon we ambled along a trout stream.

Laurel and John up the look out tower– and we did find real snow–piled in the parking lot!!
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After touring the Aldo Leopold Museum (early ecologist), we took a soggy trek back to the home in the woods we shared with his wife and 5 kids!

John’s trusty jeep carried us through the woods,gorgeous fungi on the forest floor.
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Through the forest, just before a flock up enormous sandhill cranes passed over head– It was a so magical!

We squeezed in a little shopping–kitchen store, books stores, thrift shops, the indoor winter farmer’s market along the way.

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And you know we found some good things to eat –starting with morning coffee & scones.

Friday “Fish Fry” at the Tip Top Tavern–and a humongous pretzel at the Grumpy Troll Brewery
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Indian breakfast at the indoor Farmer’s Market
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And Laurel pulled together a Wisconsin cheese tray feast when friends dropped by…

And one last P.S.– Thanks to our awesome nephew Shawn– who surprised us with the best seats for a Maroon 5 concert in Milwaukee– a big serendipity!!  We felt like rock stars ourselves!
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So thank you, thank you Laurel & John– you are always so warm and welcoming. Love you.  xox

Out and About in Madison


Hello all– Back from a couple weeks in Wisconsin and it was really a 2 part trip (so more later…).  Here’s “Wisconsin– Part #1,”  This is the week with Laurel out and about in Madison.  I thought about calling this post “Mad About Madison”  –I liked it that much!  Here’s my faves from our days together:

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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the state capitol building!!  Laurel’s co-op office is on a corner of the capital square, so she walks straight through the building on her way to work in the morning– a glorious commute!

One afternoon we took off across the countryside, past hilly farmland, stopping in Mt. Horeb  and rolling on the Cress Spring Bakery for Pizza on the farm.

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Photos:  Rolling farmland, Scandinavian shop in Mt. Horeb,  pizza picnickers out on the farm.

We spent a morning in the new Madison Public Library–being very fond of libraries (especially this one!), I went back and read through one afternoon there while Laurel was working…

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Photos above:  back half of the children’s floor, library exterior, Laurel looking over the kid’s book selection,  3rd floor event space looking across the city.

Just loved strolls through Laurel’s neighborhood on Lake Monona, all the stately older houses, lush trees, flowered yards– plus the lake and park along the canal.  So different than my little California suburb.

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Photos above:  Bridge across the canal, two of my favorite houses, morning crew out on the dock feeding ducks.

One day, I wandered across the street from Laurel’s work to stroll through the Wisconsin History Museum– four floors of Indian artifacts, immigrant settlers and things particular to Wisconsin–an afternoon well spent.

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Photos above: Indian utensils and satchels, immigrant clothing & religious artifacts

And Laurel and I took drizzly walk through her neighborhood along the lake to Olbrich Gardens to walk past fountains, flower beds, and wooded pathways.

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Thanks for your warm and wonderful hospitality Laurel & John–It couldn’t have been more fun!  Glad we finally got our picture up on the visitor wall!!  (We’ll be back!)

Wonderful (& Wild) Wedding Weekend

Sunset at Paul and Andrea’s  Beautiful Beachside Wedding

Hello all– Last weekend we went from a little house of 2 people to a bulging house of 11.  Kids came in for our niece adorable Andrea’s wedding and I loved every crowded noisy minute of it.

11822858_10204674970575896_3730882765683165991_n     11219519_10101297814102144_8912496234809558510_nThe wedding day was brilliant and so were the bride and groom–  photos: Andrea with her ever-loving’ Dad– and the happy couple after the ceremony.

And we sandwiched a little more fun into the weekend with kids in tow.

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11794378_10104479821094423_2002550834861642123_o     11222728_10104478528419953_8163597927642699430_o  photos:  4 gals snapping selfies in the backyard,  Laurel & John celebrating Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier, John greeting the mastodon at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum on his L.A. tour, Brian-Harry-Ani out for super burger dinner and a stroll around Fullerton.

11791899_10153160423171478_1343325681399519460_oIt warmed a mom’s heart to have kids around the house and all dressed up (!) for the lovely wedding together– thanks all –for the memorable weekend!!

Eating with Laurel in Chicago

Stan’s Donuts–home of the pocket donut, stuffed with banana or peanut butter or…

Hi friends–
If you’ve talked to me at lately, you’ve probably had to listen to me go on (and on) about my week with Laurel and Jenon in Chicago.  Well, here I am again.  Just wanted to tell you about eating in Chicago, which everyone knows is a very important part of traveling.  Right?  Here’s some fun meals we ran into:

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     DSC01950    The first evening Laurel whisked us off to Charlatan.  It’s a very current kind of place, labeled “Italian-American Farmhouse Fare.” Loved all the bites we passed around the table and it was all so beautiful on the plate.  And it has the added bonus of three mascots on the back wall to welcome you in.  photos: place setting; salad with farrow, lardons, pomegranate & smoked walnuts; chicken & waffles; a buck buffalo and wild boar on the back wall over our shoulders.


DSC01953     DSC01961My favorite breakfast was at Winchester Cafe.  Unfortunately I was so excited to eat my breakfast, I forgot to take a photo before it was all gone!  You’ll just have to trust me that the avocado & grapefruit seasoned with peppers –with seedy toast was pretty and delish! photos:  Oatmeal with dried fruits, breakfast menu, a well eaten breakfast…

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Laurel had told me ahead about Coal Fire Pizza, so I had been really anticipating this delicious stop.  As you would guess, the pizza’s are blasted in a coal fired oven.  I sidled over to peek in the kitchen to get a look at the oven.  The friendly server told me some spots in the oven reach 1200 degrees!  And they only leave the pizzas in to cook for 90 seconds!  Amazing.  photos: John & Laurel with our pizzas– they drop little puffs of fresh ricotta on the pizza after it’s cooked, and pizza hot from the oven.

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We preceded our visit to the Swedish American Museum with a bountiful Swedish breakfast at Ann Sathers– where they’ve been serving up their legendary cinnamon rolls and Swedish pancakes for over 60 years.  Good morning!!!


c96ddea4b9db6957a1028175ef89c51a     DSC02250    On our last night in town Laurel & John ferried us over to Margie’s Candies.  Opened in 1921, it counts Al Capone and the Beatles as former customers! It’s a candy shop, and also serves up monumental ice cream sundaes.  It’s a tiny place and we waited a while squished into a corner until we slipped into our cozy booth that looked as it I may have been there since the beginning.  I don’t need to tell you it was a mouth watering stop.  photos; the shop and the ice cream!

DSC02070     DSC02069Hanging out with a 30 year old takes you places you might not have wandered into by yourself.  Take Furious Spoon! Loud and a little crazy– but oh that broth,  best ramen around… (sorry Laurel for all the wacky Laurel eating shots– but you are a pretty irresistible food model!)


DSC02237     littlegoat_intro_033013And last, but far from least, we settled in for dinner at Little Goat Diner.  A wish come true.     The interior was clean and retro-ish modern, and the food was updated old fashioned.  Loved it.  photos:  Quesadilla with asparagus and blueberries (who dreamt up that one?) and below, my tuna melt on sour dough with a cheese sauce and topped with a bright nicoise salad.  It was incredibly edible.

So Thanks Laurel (and John and Jenon) for all the good eating and your amiable companionship at meal time.  Can’t wait to do it again!

Spring Break Chicago!

DSC02154Hey there– Back from the best kind of spring break– not balmy beaches and swimming pools, but blustery days out and about in Chicago.  Trekked back with a college friend, Jenon, to stay with my Lovable Laurel of the blue and purple hair.  It was grand!

P.S.– I apologize in advance for any “photo fatigue” you may endure here– so many pictures– I couldn’t narrow it down!  (just skim!)

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DSC01970     DSC01986Our first morning we headed downtown to study our way through the Art Institute.  The monumental building welcomed us in and we set off toward the European paintings with loads of happy anticipation–favorites:  architectural details along the Grand Staircase,  “Meekness” one of series from the Beatitudes by by Eustache Sueur (French), the American folk art collection and this more modern take on “The Annunciation” by George Hitchcock (American)

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11088556_10100959968986450_7808233584593343123_nIn the afternoon we scurried through the chill of Millennium Park (the Bean!) and across downtown, stopping midway for a restoring cup of hot tea.  Here’s our mandatory reflection in the bean photo– we’re the 3 jolly gals in the middle!

DSC02036     DSC02039We did a little grocery shopping at Eataly (Mario Batali’s super amazing Italian grocers/eating spot) and at the local Mariano’s for soup ingredients.  Grocery shopping–one of my favorite indoor sports!

DSC02050    DSC02052    DSC02055. We started the next day with a Swedish Ann Sather’s breakfast and then strolled next door to the Swedish American Museum– checking up on Jenon’s Scandinavian roots!

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Of course we squeezed a little shopping– to the Four Corners Print shop to pick up a Chicago skyline print for Laurel– and into the fanciest Walgreens installed in an old Chicago banking building.


DSC02106     DSC02109One soggy morning, we found ourselves in the (slightly drippy) Garfield Park Conservatory– an immense glasshouse, built in 1908 and chock full of lush vegetation, secret pathways and the brightest blooms.  Loved it!

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DSC02114     DSC02119One of my favorite stops was at the historic Romanesque Glessner House, built in 1886, by architect Henry Richardson.  It’s on Prairie Street, once home to Chicago’s elite, and is filled with original Arts & Crafts movement furnishings of the Glessner family.  So grand to pretend we were guests in this exquisite house–  ((last photo: Laurel and I examining Mrs. Glessner’s dressing table.)


DSC02147     DSC02146And we spent a fishy afternoon gaping at all the creatures in the Shedd aquarium.  Personal favorites– the sea turtle and the otters.

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DSC02192     DSC02176Next stop, the Lincoln Park Zoo.  One of those beautiful older zoos–the lion house is a classic.   And it’s free.  That just feels like a friendly thing to do– welcoming people in to say hi to the animals without even standing in line for a ticket.


And finally we topped off our trip at the Chicago History Museum– It’s one of my favorite stops in a new city– to get a real sense of the place.  They had exhibits from Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, and architecture and pop culture.  Big fun. Here is the Water Tower that escaped the Chicago Fire and Laurel pointing out her neighborhood on the map.

DSC01938     DSC02237And, of course, there was plenty of eating involved– Laurel and John know how to pick the most intriguing places to sit down to a meal.  (and I do have to include the scrumptious Nicoise  salad tuna melt).  But I’ll save most of all that eating that for another post…

Thanks bunches Jenon and Laurel for all the fine times out and about in Chicago.  xoxo!