Sunday, December 5, 2010


I was anxious to get to the barn this morning. The sun was out, the air was crisp and I hadn't been out since last Sunday!

I started a new job this past week and last night we hosted our annual tree decorating party with friends. It was a busy week filled with lots of "to-dos." Now, don't get me wrong... I'm so very thankful to have a list filled with tasks and reminders that point to an awesome job, a group of super friends and the best family a girl could ask for. But sometimes, the brain needs some quiet.

Pixie and I took a walk around the back of the farm. It's a beautiful area and as we crunched our way through the fresh snow I felt completely at peace. This beautiful black mare never fails to bring me the peace I seek.

One more thing to be grateful for! Life is good.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to bundle up!

I remember being 15 years old and doing whatever I had to do to get out of the house on a freezing cold Wisconsin morning... without a hat on. Seriously. It went something like this:

Dad: "Bell, put on a hat. It's below zero out there."

Me: "Do I have to wear a hat?! It's going to mess up my hair. What if so-and-so (insert crush of the week) sees me? I'll die! I'm only going to be outside for 10 minutes total. I'm not wearing a hat."

I relived that conversation (in my imagination) this weekend when I brought out the winter coat for Miss Pixie. She was SO not into it.

Yes. It's pink. BRIGHT pink. Like highlighter pink. I love it. Not so sure about her. Mr. Z says she's probably embarrassed in front of her buddies.

Is that the look of a teen-aged girl or what?

"Come on mom, leave me alone, I'm hanging with my friends." (All of whom are wearing their own spiffy jackets!)

I snapped away, taking many pictures, even though it was freezing outside. No need to worry. I was wearing my hat!

Friday, November 26, 2010

French Toast Sandwich

I've got the "post Turkey-day time to eat healthy and work out" motivation coursing through my veins today. How about you?

So I started the day with 20 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 10 minutes of yoga and this tasty delight for breakfast:

It's a french toast sandwich made with flax and sesame seed rustic sourdough bread, eggs from the ladies next door, peanut butter, banana and a teaspoon of maple syrup.

So tasty!

I'm starting a new job on Monday, so I'm trying to get my life in order this weekend. Clean the house, clean out my closet, organize everything. If you know me well, you realize this is no small task.

I better get going while I still have some of that pumpkin pie motivation pulsing through my body!

Monday, September 27, 2010

So much good stuff!

What a busy and wonderful weekend!

Friday night began with serious Pixie triage. My little mare managed to cut her leg up pretty badly and I had to make my first call to the vet. She'll live, although she's a tad dramatic about the bandaging process (she must get that from her mother... her human mother). I didn't get home until well after 8 PM and my wonderful Mr. Z had a delicious hot meal waiting for me. With a very fancy place setting.

And an even fancier menu...

After a stressful, chilly, looonnnggg night, I laughed so hard at this set up. A handsome husband who can cook and makes me laugh every day. Seriously, could I be ANY luckier?!

Saturday began with another trip to the barn to make sure Pixie made it through the evening without tearing off her bandages. I was out there for four hours, rushed back to town, picked up our CSA box, made my way home, threw myself into the shower and welcomed my wonderful lady family to my house... for we were off to see the wizard!

Wicked is playing at the Overture Center for the next week or so and it was FANTASTIC. I knew nothing about the show, I haven't read the book or listened to the music, and I really, really enjoyed it. I kind of thought it might be one of those things that everyone raves about and doesn't live up to expectations... not so. A really wonderful production with awesome messages, entertaining characters and really clever lines.

After the show we went to an Irish Pub for a delicious meal and Irish car bombs. Yes, even Nana did one. I wish I had pictures.

After a long weekend of eating and drinking I knew it was time to get back on track. I've been following weight watchers for a couple of months now. I've lost almost 10 pounds, but the last couple of weeks have been a little stressful at work and that threw any healthy eating plans out the window. So it's time to buckle down!

Breakfast was 4 points. Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffin with 1 T cream cheese and blueberry tea.

Snacks for 2 points. A small banana and bruised pear.

Leftovers for lunch for a total of 5 points. This handy dandy tupperware consists of 2 T of my mom's homemade hummus, 3 1/2 oz chicken breast and loads of veggies.

I'm dreaming of future leftover lunches. I feel like fall weather really lends itself to leftovers: chili, soups and stews...OH MY! Speaking of soup, I have three different squashes sitting on my counter that need to be turned into something soon. Perhaps I'll have a recipe update later this week!

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

A good man is worth a zillion-bajillion diamonds...

Mr. Z carrying our nephew Cooper around the Milwaukee airport at midnight upon our return from Jamaica.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I'm copying this from a favorite blog of mine. I thought it would be an easy way to get back into the swing of blogging.

From the simple woman's daybook...

Outside my window… is an amazing piece of art created by my brother.

I am thinking… of how lucky I am to be employed.

I am thankful for… my home that I can fill with new art and lots of love.

From the kitchen… I am dreaming of fall baked goods I will make.

I am wearing… a miss-matched pair of undergarments (it's hot!).

I am creating… beautiful memories with my husband each day.

I am going… to Maine in October to visit family. Yay!

I am reading… a book about Frida and Diego and the communist revolution in Mexico by Barbara Kingsolver. Kind of boring.

I am hoping… for peach in my mind. Always.

I am hearing… my husband eat his dinner. Munch, munch, munch.

Around the house… is cozy and warm and lots of dust bunnies.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Ride pixie for the first time since hurting my back, catch up with friends, work my body (elliptical!).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pixie and I on the Playland!

This has been one of the hottest, buggiest and busiest summers on record!

But I love it all!

This is Pixie and me horsing around on the teeter-totter (hehehe). It may not look like a big deal, but horses don't love things that move under their feet. This was our second time going over it under saddle and it went pretty well!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Favorite Visitor!

Another summertime visit with my mom! She's here for a week and we've really done nothing but yoga and eating.

After breakfast with Red, we ran some errands and wound up at a French pastry shop that I've been dying to try.

My mom got a chocolate eclair.

And I got the citrus tart.

As we nibbled our tasties, we wondered whether bakery just tastes better in France or if it really is better there. Because sadly, these guys didn't even come close to our Parisian delights.

Of course we ate every last bit... we wouldn't want anything to go to waste.

We continued our errands and I got three dresses from St. Vinnie's! I even found a dress for Mr. Z's sister's wedding that's coming up in August.

When we got home we made ourselves a lunch/afternoon snack/dinner treat and ate it on our new deck.

These are the best meals.

We had a baguette from the French bakery, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Irish cheddar....

Kohlrabi, mushroom tofu spread, Mr. Z's homemade salsa, chips and a refreshing beverage made of juice and fizzy soda.

After our meal it was finally cool enough to go to the barn, but I forgot my camera!! We had such a great time. I gave my mom a ride on Pixie (I led them around with a rope) and I showed her how far we've come with soccer, cantering and bareback riding. It was really, really fun!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Finally: The Birthday Post!

Pardon me for my recent absence. Some of you may know that a recent flash flood ruined my trusty Saturn. I've been dealing with insurance issues all week and haven't been in the mood to blog.

Luckily, everything worked out for the best, the weekend has been beautiful and I figured it's time to upload some birthday pictures!

Here is Julia enjoying her very first alcoholic beverage: a pear cosmopolitan. Nana really had to put the peer pressure on this one.

After dinner we went back to the house to enjoy cake, games and conversation.

I decided to decorate the cake with chocolate chip cookies.

The birthday girl totally dug it!

It's so wonderful to have a tribe of amazing women to call my family. In all there were 14 of us! We are each unique in many ways, however our commonalities include inner beauty, a sense of humor and love for the curly-haired birthday girl (ok...I'll add "outside" beauty as well, we are a group of fantastic looking women and girls!).

Happy birthday Julia!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Our dear friend Miss Leslie took some trips this spring to exotic places near and far and brought us back some yummy gifts!

And by yummy, I mean a really spectacular Cher magnet from Las Vegas:

Just how big is that magnet you wonder? Well, let me give you some perspective...

Yes folks, that is one sweet treat gracing the travel section of our refrigerator door!

But the real star of Miss Leslie's travels (sorry Cher!) is the Mexican vanilla that she brought back just for me!

I can't explain how it's different than vanilla you'd find in specialty stores here, other than saying it's just better. It's fuller, softer, more vanillaier.

I'll be busting this open tomorrow when I make a very special birthday cake! Perhaps I'll crank up some Cher as I'm mixing, beating and frosting....

Saturday, June 19, 2010


This beautiful girl turned 21 a couple of weeks ago and we're finally getting around to celebrating next Saturday!

The wonderful ladies of her family are getting together for dinner, games and drinks and I'm guessing it may get kind of rowdy. We're kind of a rowdy bunch...

(Grand Canyon 2009)

Anyway, I'm extra excited because I get to make the cake! I gave her a list of choices for cake, filling and frosting and she just got back to me with her selection: chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and vanilla butter cream frosting. A very tasty choice indeed!

When I know I'm going to make a cake, I can't stop thinking about it. I'll dream up different recipes for the individual parts and imagine creative ways to decorate it. I'm really excited about this cake because the frosting will be vanilla butter cream, so there are endless decoration ideas: writing, "happy birthday!" or other well wishes across the cake, decorating with shapes or designs, adding other sweets to the top, finding a crazy cake topper that may or may not be appropriate for a family birthday party... like I said, endless ideas!

And of course, most of all, I can't wait for the birthday girl to taste the creation I made especially for her. Hopefully she won't be so tipsy that she can't discern it from HoHo.

Of course there will be pictures to come!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ok, I feel better now...

My Nana is the cutest woman on the face of the planet. Seriously, she is.

Just look at this picture of her taken last year at the Grand Canyon. She's holding a little step stool Mr. Z made for her so she could get into the eight passenger van the ladies of my family rented to get us to the park (it reads: "Grand Canyon or bust!")

Anyway, she's a cutie-patootie (and probably my most loyal blog reader).

When she read my post about the boxed cake, she sent me an e-mail that began like this, "I loved reading your blog today. So the princess made a box cake...welcome to the rest of the royal family!"

That Nana cracks me up sometimes! I sure do love her.

The yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting was a huge hit at the birthday party. Only one person asked if it was from scratch (why do people ask that?) and I had to admit it wasn't and try to explain that I really am a great baker and yadda yadda yadda, like she cared...

Thankfully I had time today to whip out a masterpiece: a whipped cream yellow cake with strawberry jam filling and lemon buttercream frosting. Delicious!

Betty worked her tail off today and I could tell she was smiling the whole time.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I buy lots of berries during summer, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries... you get the picture. And they all come in those holey plastic containers, which for some reason I have a hard time throwing out (kind of like the long cardboard tubes that come with paper towels). So toss them in the pantry and on occasion, when Mr. Z goes for some chips, they all come tumbling out. He grumbles and asks why on earth I am saving useless containers.

Well, now I know! To portion out spinach from our CSA (Driftless Organics) for green monster smoothies throughout the week, of course!

I washed and dried the spinach then portioned it into four different containers (ok... so I know what I'm going to do with four of the 80 containers in the pantry).

I figure each morning I can pull one out, toss the spinach into the blender with some yummy fruit and call it good (then wash the container and put it back into the pantry...).

We also got potatoes in our CSA box this week. Aren't they pretty?

I used them to make potato and kohlrabi au gratin for Sunday dinner.

It was very tasty! I love Sundays that include lots and lots of baking and tasty food!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh no she d'int!

Oh yes I did! I openly admit it... I made a boxed cake.

There is a surprise party tonight for Farmer Ted - he's turning 60!

Luckily he doesn't read the blog, he doesn't even own a computer, and if he did own a computer, he'd likely never stray from the "Tyra Banks" google image search page. So I think I'm good.

I'm in charge of the cake and his favorite cake is yellow with MILK chocolate frosting. He's very clear about it being milk chocolate and not dark chocolate, or any other kind of chocolate for that matter.

(See Betty in the background in all her pink glory? She's kind of sad she didn't get to help out with Ted's birthday cake. It's ok Betty. Duncan took care of this one, but I promise you get the next tasty task!)

Now, why did I decide to go with pre-packaged, artificially flavored, preservative filled tastiness rather than true food deliciousness? Honestly, time and audience. Do you realize you can make a cake in less than an hour and only dirty four dishes?! It's amazing!

And the birthday boy will be the first to tell you how "country" he is. Even if I told him this cake came from a box and a tub (which I won't) he'd rave over it for days and call me "Susie Homemaker" for the rest of the month.

There are many reasons why I bake, but the number one reason is to make people happy. And I'm certain this cake will do the trick! Well, the cake and maybe a picture of Tyra Banks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game on!

Equisoccer season is in full swing! Pixie and I took our place on the field this week for the very first time under saddle.

She did a GREAT job with the ball. Dealing with the other horses was another matter. It will take time for her to get used to maneuvering the ball around other horses. Usually, when she's around other horses, she's the boss. When she's under saddle and there's a soccer ball involved, I'M the boss. It will just take a little time to get used to that...

But seriously, get that ball in front of her and her name's Pixie Hamm.

See the resemblance?


Saturday, June 5, 2010


Whew! What a weekend. I'm too tired to come up with anything witty to write, but here are some pictures to tell a story...

Bought protein powder at the co-op. I'm going to try it in our green monsters. I'll keep you posted.

Helped Mr. Z in the yard. Shoveling rocks is rough. Wearing a tiara while you do it makes it just a little bit more fun!

Riding lesson on Pixie. Practiced trotting and transitioning to a canter. She is so fast!

Sunday dinner. So yum! Sweet potato ravioli, pork chops and greens.

My view from dinner. What a satisfying end to a weekend of hard work!

I hope you had a great weekend!