My Last Day Off.

 So, this is my last day off this year. I imagine that some sort of proclamation of my best intentions is in order. Unfortunately, I've never been one for casting promises into the air. Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to 2012 and all the new adventures it holds. However, I will start the new year the same way I finished the last one, by continuing to do what I have always done. Continue to live, grow and make mistakes (lots and lots of them). In my opinion, we are who we are, no matter what. There is no point in promising to myself or anyone else that I am going to be  better than I am after the clock strikes Twelve. Isn't it kind of redundant anyway? "I'm going to try to be a better person and make better decisions for me and my family". Well, I suppose if someone does not already live their life in this way then perhaps some sort of liquor and glitter filled affirmation is appropriate. Seriously though, isn't this the very essence of being human? I will continue to be the best Dad I can be. Be the best husband that I can. Be healthy(ish) through food and exercise. Pursue my passions and hobbies as much as I can. I will continue to do all the things I have always done, mostly by being honest with myself, my family and my friends. Even if honesty sucks, it is what you will get. Because it is pure, and if I am dishing it out then I care enough that you hear it. I will be here the same as I was yesterday, today and tomorrow. Always here, always John.

Cheers, to the past, the present and all the days hereafter!



Bluegill Tacos// Adam Derstine

We met the Derstines through mutual friends when we were asked to prepare a surprise birthday dinner for our friend Rachel. At some point during the typical dinner party "getting to know each other" banter, they mentioned rather nonchalantly, "We have a little farm about an hour away. We raise pigs".  As  we remember it, "Holy Shit, are you serious!" was the initial response, followed by a barrage of questions. Thankfully, the first course was good; otherwise they may have made a run for it. Having a working farm of our own is almost at the very top of our "someday" list. They were really awesome and answered all of our (many) questions. Adam has been awesome enough to join us this week for what we hope is the start of a new series; a series about mid-west farm life, answers to all those questions we forgot to ask, or whatever the heck he wants. Hopefully the answer to one of those questions is "Yes, you can come visit us. No, you don't have to leave".

If you were so inclined (and we hope you are) you can keep up with Adam and Elise here.   

This was the view from the front of the boat this spring when I went out with Kent and Tom and Tom’s 4 year-old daughter, Susana, to catch some bluegill. As you can tell, bluegill fishing isn’t exactly a high stress proposition - bobber goes down, rod goes up, then you reel in and see if you have a fish. It takes a pretty awesome 4-year old to stay engaged for 6 hours of fishing in a small boat on a windy day, but Susana was all over it, even though she wasn’t catching that many keepers. None, actually. And neither was Tom... or Kent. I managed one smallish Rock Bass - the only fish we kept all day. Not a single edible bluegill.

So you can imagine how I felt the next week when they told me they had been fishing again, on a different lake, and pulled in about 140 in a few hours. No sooner did they drop a hook in the water than it came back with a fish. Over and over again until the cooler was full.

The sad truth: fishing trips go better when I’m not on them, a fact reinforced by a very cold Saturday a few weeks ago when four of us woke up insanely early after a night of carousing, drove two hours into Michigan and spent the day not catching Steelhead in a boat best suited to two people. It didn’t help that we forgot a proper river anchor and had to hoist two scavenged concrete blocks up into the boat every time we wanted to shift location. Concrete blocks are heavy. Riverwater is cold.

So to cheer me up, Kent offered to thaw the bluegill he had never got around to eating and bring everyone over to make delicious fish tacos. It ended up being a bit of a production: ‘Beer Battered Bluegill Tacos Deep-Fried in Lard with Spicy Mayo.’ They were awesome.


1 cup all-purpose flour //2 tablespoons cornstarch //1 tsp baking powder //1/2 teaspoon salt //1 egg //1 cup beer

The process here is low-tech. There’s a big pot of bubbling melted lard and the fish get dipped in batter and dropped in the fat. They should be browned on one side and flipped. Pretty much just basic frying.

Huge bowl of bluegill fillets.

Small bit of lard melting in larger bit of lard.

 This is either a monster bluegill or that one Rock Bass I caught.

Other important parts of the equation:

Spicy Mayo 
//~1 C Mayo //~1 T Diced Onion //Cholula

This is a pretty loose concoction - you add Cholula until it turns a light pinkish. You have to use Cholula - other hot sauces are not as awesome here.

Limey Slaw

//half head of cabbage, shredded finely //zest and juice of 2-3 limes //2T Honey //S & P //Jalapeno (if you like)
Everybody is happy.


What's inside. (my house)



This is where we have been.

We will fully accept that we have been slacking on here for the last week. It's just that, well, hanging out with the boys, stuffing our faces and playing with our newest addition (Thank you Santa) Pippi Longstocking is cooler than blogging. But really, we could never stay away for too long. If you were curious what our Holiday looked like, here's a little re-cap.



Merry Christmas!!

Sorry we have been gone for the past few days.  Crazy does not begin to describe this past week.  Today we are laying low with the family and trying to pack this day with as much Christmas spirit as possible.  We wish you a Merry Christmas !


In Case You Didn't

 Just in case you missed it, John made his writing debut this week over at Foodie Parent.  He posted one of our favorite recipes.  If you haven't already, you should probably check it out!



giveaway from jean dear! // CLOSED

Congrats to Tess!  She won our first giveaway !  
A big thank you to all who entered!

 We are thrilled to bring you our very first giveaway! 

 Our very dear and talented friend, Jean, is generously offering our readers one of
her amazing dolls.  Each doll is made by hand, using Kona cotton and wool blend felt.  They are approximately 15 inches tall.
The winner of this giveaway will win a custom made doll! (She also makes dolls in dude form)  
These dolls would make an amazing gift for a little one, or as John suggested, voodoo or blaming for missing cookies.  
*To enter, leave your name and e-mail (this is very important!) along with a comment.  We would love to know your best/worst Christmas gift ever! If you would like to be entered more than once, you can tweet it, or ♥ Jean's etsy shop.
Good luck!


 How to enter

* Giveaway is open to all readers and will run through Sunday!
* Additional entry if you tweet the giveaway //or ♥ Jean's shop on etsy



Get What You Give

 Here we are.  The end of another weekend and the beginning of the Christmas frenzy.  Our Christmas officially started last night with a trip to the in-laws.  It is always an awkward experience to say the very least and last night did not disappoint.  As previously mentioned, we have family whom we are close to and we have those we see only at events which are created merely out of obligation.  Don't get me wrong, we love these people but we don't really know them. At all.  How is that possible?  We live fifteen minutes away from each other, and one of them played a significant role  in raising my husband.  Yet, we rarely speak, or see each other unless it is at one of the obligatory functions. It makes me sad to think that, at one point, there was a closeness between my husband and his father. A closeness which has been completely lost.  Squandered even. So, how does this happen?   I don't have a complete answer for this, but I think it boils down to interest.

John and I happened to have a conversation just the other day about Gavin and how emotional he has been of late.  ( If you have dealt with a pre-teen, you understand my pain).  We were trying to work out what was going on with him, when it occurred to me.  At the age of eleven, when you are  hormonal and acting crazy, all you want from your parents is to know they hear you. To know you have a voice and what you say matters.  For your parents to show interest in what you are doing, and most importantly, who you are. In my opinion, this never really goes away.

As adults, I know John and I have wanted to have that same connection with our parents.  It would be incredible to go to one of these things and not have someone ask "What have you been up to?"  because they already knew.   Because they already had a vested interest in what we we are doing and know us well enough to not gift us purple towels because we are "funky".  I would also love for John's grandmother to learn how to spell my name. (she only misspelled it last night.  At our wedding nearly eight years ago, I was Linda.  I guess there have been some improvements)

As much as these things bother me, they mostly make me grateful.  I am thankful to feel connected to my husband and my sons.  I know John will never take his relationship with the boys for granted.  Things are not always perfect at our house.  We definitely make our share of mistakes. But we will ALWAYS do our very best to make sure the boys know we care about what they are doing and feel comfortable in their own skin. I look forward to the future. To having our family grow and trying to appreciate all the moments along the way. Here's to an amazing Holiday, and an even better New Year!

* Photo by the talented and awesome John Hartman

Day Off.

Well, we were out of our underwear long before noon today. So, now what? After we dropped Mom at work we would have the house to ourselves. So what to do with all this free time? Finn, as always, suggested stripping back down to our skivvies and playing Mario Bro's until our thumbs fall off. While it is always a tempting offer, I had an alternative activity in mind. "How about we make a treat to take to the shop on Saturday?" "We can listen to Rock and Roll records" Finn took a moment to size me up, to see if it was indeed a serious proposal. When he was certain that Mario and Luigi were not invited to our party he agreed. However, with Finn there is always a heavy sigh and specific conditions. "I get to choose the record Dad" and "I will wear your white chef hat". The hat request threw me a little but I was happy to oblige. However, I was fully prepared for his request to choose the album. I had planned for it. You see, I have been trying since birth to groom my boys to be the Metalheads of tomorrow; and they have been denying me this legacy every step of the way. Recently I have taken to creative measures with Finn. Gavin, I have decided, is pretty much lost to pop radio until he inevitably becomes the sulky goth he is destined to be. Really though, I would listen to The Cure and Death in June all day every day if it meant I never had to hear KE$HA ever again. I may never hear Reign in Blood blasting from his headphones, but it could always be worse! With Finn there is still hope. Today while we cooked. I decided to try visualization to sway him over to the dark side. When it was time to start making our treat I chose two records for him to pick from. My thinking is this: 

1. Boys like cool looking things.
2. Boys do not like non cool looking things.
3. I will choose a very cool looking Heavy Metal album and a very uncool looking Non-Metal album.
Problem solved.
I am a genius!

Since I am not at all above stacking the deck when it comes to serious matters, these were his choices.


It was dirty. I know. Don't judge me. But, it worked.
"I don't want to hear that weird lookin' girl dad. I like that creepy one instead"
"Are you sure? It is your choice. Well o.k then."

Let the cooking commence! And by cooking I mean: mixing, measuring and baking. Our recipe for today was a riff on a pretty standard snack mix. The kind that you find yourself stuffing in your mouth, almost without thinking from November all the way through the New Year. Nothing really that spectacular. Tasty yes, challenging no. It is always fun to be in the kitchen with Finn when we make things that he can almost execute all by himself with me coaching. These times are especially awesome when I jazz them up with the kind of air guitar that makes your 4 year old blush because you are that stupid looking. Yes, I am that Dad. No, I do not care. 
 It was a pretty awesome time in the kitchen. It must have been 15 whole minutes of pure dude bonding! As soon as he finished scooping the last ingredient into the mixing bowl he had the Wii turned on telling me to "turn down this noisy stuff". Point taken, but it will not deter me. I will succeed.

 Snack Mix Bloody Snack Mix

Part 1
3Cups Pecans//3 Tbl. Vegetable Oil//1 1/2 Brown Sugar// 1 1/2 Wht. Sugar// 1 1/2 tsp.
Sriracha// 1 1/2 tsp Smoked Salt

Mix all ingredients together. Bake in 325 degree oven aprox. 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Part 2 

7 Tbl. Butter// 2 Tbl. Worcestershire// 3 Tbl. Soy Sauce// 1 1/2 Seasoned Salt// 1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder// 1 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
5 Cups Corn Chex
5 Cups Rice Chex
1 1/2 Cups Cashews
3 Cups Pretzels

 Mix first 6 ingredients together and microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes until melted. Mix with remaining ingredients and bake in 250 degree oven for 1 hour.
Cereal should be crisp and starting to brown.

Mix part 1 and part 2 together.

Stuff in face with plenty of beer, or juice boxes. Or whatever.


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