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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Couponing, updated

Oh yes, one of my resolutions was to start using coupons.  Doesn't everyone, you say?  Surprisingly, no.  I discussed this with my Mom over the holidays, and she said she uses coupons.  Funny, I never recall her using them ... ever.  So maybe I just didn't pay attention at the grocery store?   I don't know if it has just never occurred to me to use them, or Im just  lazy.

I have a funny comparison to talk about coupons.  I have been to the grocery store 4-5 times since I wrote my resolution blog, and not once did I use a coupon.  Because Im not in the habit.  I received a SonicCare SpinBrush toothbrush for Christmas (wait for it - this will make sense).  I was super excited, even though its vibrating and weird, and slightly nauseating the first time I used it (some of you know that I have a pretty strong motion sickness problem).  So the first night, I opened it and used it and it was great.  The very next morning, we had to run out the door, and I pull my hair into a pony, throw on my shoes, brush my teeth, run into the kitchen to pour some to-go coffee .... and my mom is just looking at me.  Yeah, I just grabbed the manual toothbrush.  Totally forgot about the totally awesome SpinBrush (and yes, I would like sponsorship money from SoniCare).

Ok back to the point.  I have not used those coupons because I wasn't used to it.  It takes just a little bit of preparation.  I had to visit the websites, and check the Sunday coupon page, and put them in my purse!  And THEN, I have to remember to LOOK to them when Im at the store, and actively choose those items to purchase.   No, I probably won't use all of them.  But if I can just get this far, I feel like I can get into the habit.  I mean, I make a grocery list!  I should be able to check the websites once a week for coupons I may use.  I guarantee Im not going to remember to check before I leave work when I have an urge to make stir-fry and have to pick up the ingredients on my way home from work.

And this really ties into everything else - changes can be made with a little bit of prep.  Cut out coupons (couponing).  Have a grocery list ahead of time and stick to it (weight loss).  Print out your gym hours and group class schedule (get fit).

So good luck - let me know what you do to prep for changes
(By the way, I do have a good exercise tracking spreadsheet for activity changes)

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Monday, December 10, 2012


See Blog: New Year's Resolutions

I don't know why I don't use coupons.  I mean, it is manufacturers and stores saying, we want YOU to spend less money, so why don't I accept?  Because Im lazy.  I know that.  Too lazy to research, too lazy to cut them out, too lazy to organize them when I am at the store.  But in all reality, I have more time than money, so I really don't have that luxury.  So one of my resolutions is to be better and finding, and using, coupons.

Does anyone else use coupons?  What is the best way?  I don't get the newspaper, but maybe I can buy one every Sunday just for the coupon inserts - that's where they put them, right?  I also know there are a lot of good websites to print coupons.  Can someone tell me the best ones?  Is it worth it to go to each and every manufacturer's websites?  Do they offer more than what they put out to the websites?

Obviously I'm new to this, but I want to do it right.  HELP!  
I want responses on this one!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I stopped making new year's resolutions a few years ago because frankly, I didn't stick to them.  But I have realized it is a good time to remind yourself of the changes you want to make in your life.  Yes, they need to be realistic goals.  Yes, you need a game plan.  But it can go so much longer (or sooner) than the usual resolutions.  So here are some of my ideas (not necessarily using this year), and I would love to hear more to add to the list.  They don't have to be the ones you're setting - just ideas for everyone else!

1.  Meditate at least once per week - increasing a day every 3 months (putting on calendar!)
2.  Keep a log of exercise - aim for 2x per week, increasing to 4 by April (putting on calendar!)
3.  Write thank you cards for gifts by Jan 15 (putting on calendar!)
4.  Start using coupons by Dec 15 (I don't mean the extreme couponing, people, get your head out of the gutter - but seriously?  A $400 grocery bill and they pay $13?)
5.  Use up food in my cupboards consistently
6.  Do some of the projects I have saved, taken pictures of, and written down (many of them are nature based, so I might have to wait for spring for these)
7.  Learn how to knit - basic stitches by June 1st
8.  Learn how to use Pinterest
9.  Be less judgemental - to others and to myself
10.  Cook dinner at home more often (Does anyone want to trade 1/2 dinners?  Sometimes I waste because I can't eat it all up before it goes bad)

By the way, it helps to write them down and post them where you can see them every day
Thanks, Miss Katy

Peace.  Love.  Serene

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Cookies

Who doesn't love Christmas Cookies??

This year I get an honor that makes me both happy and sad.  I am helping Granny make the time-honored super-special super-delicious world-famous Xmas eve Christmas cookies.  It's sad because she has been having some pain issues and doesn't feel that she can do it alone.  It's happy because it has been a super secret recipe my entire life, and NOW for the FIRST TIME, it is being passed down.  I don't know if this means that next year the responsibility will be all my own, but I will take on the shared or solo cooking with gratefulness.
There is also a tradition involved in these cookies that goes like this:

NOBODY gets to eat a Christmas Cookie until AFTER dinner on Christmas eve

But other than these cookies, I will also be baking several others.  In all reality, I don't have much of a sweet tooth.  I will probably only eat a couple of each cookie over the holidays.  But I love presenting them, and I love giving them as gifts.

Here is my list:

Swedish christmas cookies
Candy cane cookies
Ritz thin mints
Chocolate covered orange balls
Saltine toffee
Candied citrus peel

These are my maybes:

Fruit jellies (I've never made them before, but this is my kind of candy!)
Peppermint marshmallows (I've never made homemade marshmallows, but they are all over this year)
Lemon ginger mint cookies (very good, but not very Christmassy)

I know I will have to cut a few of these out, but it's so hard to choose!!

What are you favorites to make?

Peace.  Love.  Serene

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving with the Griswolds (Raudios)

Thanksgiving with family - isn't that the way it's supposed to be?

After making the 6-hour drive with downtown Chicago traffic
(picture me, jamming out to Pink, calling anyone who would answer the phone)
I finally arrived at my cousin, Jolene's, house.  It was a houseful of people, and I was exhausted, sore, and frustrated from traffic.  I hope nobody was offended that I wasn't my usual chipper self.

The weekend was mostly spent on the couch, helping out in the kitchen on Thursday without getting in the way, and hanging with the KIDS!
            (This term has dual meaning - I got to hang out with my cousin's kids, which I don't know very well since I don't see them often, and they grow so fast!  Great kids ... But ALSO, that side of my family is apostolic lutheran - when they are growing up, they tend to hang out with other kids from the church, and they always said "Im going out with the kids" ... meaning church kids)

The food was awesome (thanks Jolene!), the family time was perfect.  Friday was spent watching a Twilight marathon, and then going to the theatre with 2 of the kids to watch the grand finale (Breaking Dawn Part 2) - AWE-SOME.  Seriously.  AWESOME.  Of course, Georgia and Abby were just watching our faces and our reactions the whole time.  Can we say embarrassing?

Jolene hired a medium to come on Saturday.  This is where is gets really interesting.  And let me backtrack.  I believe I have a bit of sensitivity.  I have done a couple levels of Reiki (energy balancing) training, and have always been interested in ghosts and such.  In the last few years, I have had the unique experience of "hearing" the recently passed at their funerals.  And then this year, I acted as a pretend medium at a seance', but it turned out to be really real.  I had spouted some information to a girl I've never met about her father from the other side.  Nobody really seemed impressed.  Maybe they thought it was planned.  Im like "PEOPLE!  WE JUST TALKED TO THE OTHER SIDE!"  But back to this weekend ... I was excited to have a medium coming over because I have read that a lot of loved ones gather when they know there is someone that can speak for them.  He was great.  He contacted many of our relatives, and gave us very specific details to validate it was really them.
I didn't get much, but every now and then a name would pop into my head.  4 to be exact.  And guess what - they were all relevant to what was being said, although I didn't know it at the time.  So I'm putting this out there.  You may think I'm weird.  Oh you already think I'm all weird and new agey anyway.  This is me!  I'll be working on developing this ... I'll try to remember to keep everyone updated.

Peace.  Love.  Family.  Serene.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Puerto Rico

** Puerto Rico **

First, I'd like to share how important I think vacations are.  Just to get out of town, out of routine, out of work.  See the world, and forget yours.  I personally do not enjoy sitting on a beach for hours.  I prefer seeing everything a city has to offer.  While I love being a tourist, I also like the way it doesn't allow my mind to wander.  I don't stress about work.  I don't think about problems I might be having.  I simply don't have time.  So while my body doesn't necessarily rest, my mind certainly does, and that's what vacation is all about to ME.  And I think everyone should take the kind of rest that is necessary for you.

After a long flight, that Katy and I completely slept through, we were picked up by Katy's parents with gifts. They brought us various Puerto Rican food, including fried plantains, pork kabobs (PRs LOVE pork), rice, and various other goodies.  And rum.  And fresh-cut coconuts with a straw.  YUM!  They drove to the condo we were staying at, and I was mesmerized by the cloud-covered mountains that hold the rainforest.  It was majestic.  I couldn't wait to get up there!  We also saw random horses on the side of the road - sometimes tied to a post with rope, sometimes not.  We saw very few fresh vegetables, but there were several roadside stands and trucks selling bananas, weird colored oranges, and breadfruit (which we found out is a starch).  You won't believe how much we packed into 5 days - here are the highlights:

Private Beach
The view from our rented condo was amazing.  While Puerto Rico touts some of the most amazing beaches, I had a hard time spending time in the car, or paying for a ferry ride, when we had one right in front of us!  When we arrived we ran down to the beach and into the water.  There was not a soul in sight.  Palm trees, soft sand, and freakishly hot water.  Super salty, and great for the skin.  We played in the waves at least once a day.

Katy is kind of a health nut.  So what little fruit we found, supplemented with juice from the store, supplements brought from home, and coconuts we found on the side of the road, Katy made us smoothies daily, sometimes twice, or three times!

The Rainforest (and La Mina falls)
This was the highlight of my time in Puerto Rico.  I've never been to a rainforest before, and this one did not disappoint.  The air was warm and muggy.  The ferns grew as tall as the trees.  There were amazing tropical flowers.  And while the wildlife sightings were slim, we could hear birds, coquis (the national tree frog), saw a couple of lizards, and a woodpecker.  I would have liked to see more lizards, birds, parrots, and is it too much to ask for a monkey or two?

I had a bad cold, so the hilly terrain was tough, but it was worth it.  We finally made it to mid-destination, which was La Mina Falls.  Amazing.  Spectacular.  Cascading.  I actually swam in a WATERFALL in the RAINFOREST!  How cool is that?  We also climbed down some rocks into another pool (even though Katy thought we were going to hurt ourselves), and also stopped at a few pools along the waterfall while we were literally hiking up the mountain, alongside that same waterfall.  I wanted to go back and camp overnight, which apparently is allowed with some kind of permit, but after realizing I have no tent, or sleeping bag, or survival skills, I was convinced to sleep in a bed in the air-conditioned condo.

Next goal:  A rainforest full of monkeys and wildlife.  Anyone know of one?  Or want to come with me?  I read online that St. Kitt's is one of the best.

Surfing lesson
Because hours of hiking through the rain forest wasn't enough for us, and because we took a wrong turn, we came across Ty of the Luquillo Beach Boys.  He cut us a deal because of cloudy weather, and after changing into some more appropriate clothes (I didn't want the girls falling out), we started our first surfing lesson EVER, and the instructions were great.  We tried on the beach first, which was NOTHING like in the water.  Ty pushed me out into the surf, and held on while he picked the perfect wave.  This is crucial since it's very hard to keep yourself in place if you are on the board.  Then he would turn the board around, and say "GO".  I would feel the push of the wave, and jump to my feet as fast as I could.  Thank goodness for gymnastics and balance!  I rode the board onto the beach 6-7 times over the coarse of the hour, which apparently is a great record.  I also took a couple of really good wipeouts, with the nose of the board getting sucked down by the wave, and me getting sinuses full of salt water.  Amazing time.  Can't wait to do it again!

La Kioskos
Short version of the story:  a mini mall of restaurants, all with bars, all displaying a case of fried foods at the entrance.  Good mojitos.  Bought my baby sister a necklace from an American chick at the Tattoo place.  Actually, it's a bar.  But they do tattoos there too.  Obviously sanitary.

Iguana Feeding
Our resort had daily iguana feeding.  BIG iguana feeding.  They were in cages - just wild iguanas who knew where and when to get fed.  Makes me miss Izzy.

A-MAY-ZING.  I didn't know what I was doing, and they didn't really tell you how, but turns out there's not  much to know.  Strap on the mask, put on your fins, blow out hard if water gets into the snorkel.  I loved floating around and seeing the super colorful fish, more types of coral than I've ever seen in my life, and I almost ran into a blue iridescent jelly fish!  When we saw each other, I tried to back up, which if you've ever tried to do in water with flippers on, it's not easy.  Apparently he had the right of way, because he just kept going.  Yes, He.

I can't wait to go snorkeling again.  Maybe some day I'll learn how to scuba dive.

Bioluminesent Bay
One of the coolest things I've never heard of.  Taking a kayak down a pitch-dark canal and out onto a lake. Apparently there are dinoflagelattes (micro plankton) that glow when they are disturbed.  You can't see them, and you can't feel them, but when you put your hand in the water, your whole hand looks like it's covered in glow in the dark blue paint.  If you splash the water, it looks like you sprayed paint in front of you.  If you quickly let it trickle down your arm, its a tiny bead of blue running down.  And when fish swam by, I could see them glowing under the surface with their movement.  The coolest thing was when they flicked their fishy tails and swam away fast - it left a trail of blue behind them like a cartoon.  And then the blue was gone as quickly as it was visible.  If anyone ever gets a chance to see this, you'll be speechless.  I couldn't take any pictures because of course it was pitch black.  And with a flash the glow factor went away.  You'll just have to believe me when I say it was the coolest thing EVER.

I wanted to learn to dance like the Puerto Ricans (hips baby hips!), and apparently Im an old dude magnet.  But at least I got to dance.  I've been told Im not half bad!  Salsa, anyone?

Pinonos Village
We went to a small village called Pinonos to see how the locals live.  We drank coconut water, had some shrimp & octopus ceviche, oysters from a really dirty cooler (GO ME!), learned a little bit of Spanish, drank beers, met a Puerto Rican soldier for the US Army, and some people watching.

Limbo Contest
On our way back from Rincon, we stopped at a random bar blasting a reggae band that looked like they were having fun.  We had a couple of beers and I won a Limbo contest.  Free shots.  Good times.

Old San Juan
Old San Juan was cool.  With 2 forts, multi-cultural restaurants, an amazing cemetery (I know it's weird, but I love cemeteries ... I think they are beautiful), and blue cobblestone streets to roam, we just didn't have enough time to see it all.  But at that point in our trip (on our way to the airport), I don't know if we had much energy left anway.  We had a $3.55 huge breakfast served with french fries (weird, but tasty), a tour through one of the original forts that protected the island of Puerto Rico, toured the cemetery where I swear something walked through me (EMF meter), and had a very good lunch at the birthplace of the Pina Colada (of course we tasted them ... I think they were from a mix now), bought a couple of souvi paintings - MOM!  They had door paintings just like in Ireland!  We also bought fake designer purses off of a cart.  But it's ok, there were cops nearby so we're not worried about being arrested.

I didn't mention the no-English karaoke bar that we came across, made friends with a Puerto Rican English teacher, and her friend that we're pretty sure won the karaoke contest, but we didn't stay till the end.  The coconut trucks.  Carlos making mojitos at the Burger Bar, Men with crabs (dirty mind  - they were on a stick!)  Killer dinners at the condo.  Driving around looking for coconuts that had fallen off trees (I think we collected about 40).  Borrowing a machete' for the coconuts.  Rainforest yoga.  Almost crashing a spanish party (more karaoke).  The rum house.  Bad grocery stores.  Buying bananas on the side of the road.    Speed bumps.  No, just drive through the speed bumps!  How many showers does Serene need to take?  Handstands on the beach.  Handsprings in the surf.  Fried plantains.  Co-kee.  Co-kee.  Co-kee.

Whew.  Wouldn't trade it for anything.  Maybe more dancing, snorkeling, and rainforest.  Next time.

Peace.  Love.  Serene

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween book?

I need some feedback here (and some motivation).  I have toyed with the idea of writing a Halloween book for adults.  None of the kitchy crap for kids.  And not gory either.  But more of a Martha Stewart style "how to throw a dinner party" for adults who love Halloween.

What do you guys think?

Has anyone ever written a book before?  Is it even possible to get this thing published, or should I stick to amateur status?

Thanks for the feedback!

Peace.  Love.  Serene

Halloween Costume 2012

Queen Ravenna
Snow White & the Huntsman 
(played by Charlize Theron)

Costume was purchased online at  I resewed the very itchy and very baggy arms, added metal to the front bodice, and had to fold the bodice in back because the torso was too long.  It was too complicated to sew because there were layers and overlays.

Cape was made by neighbor, Dianne, and I added the feathers, borders, and antique clasp.  Very realistic.  The cape was the best part of my costume!

The crown, which is a very realistic metal-looking hard plastic, came with the costume.  The dagger and finger piece are also purchased.  The necklace was mine, and the metal forehead piece is actually a necklace that my baby sister, Sonya, gave to me.  I just draped it around my head.


Halloween (party) Season has BEGUN! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

The Halloween party season has officially begun 

This weekend marked the first parties, with more to come next weekend.  Friday started with an awesome Masquerade Ball at Ginger's Cafe, hosted by my good friend Kim.  We all donned gowns and masquerade masks.  Ashley forgot hers, so we drew one on with makeup.  Her mom's cafe was the perfect spooky setting for halloween fun.  The basement has thick lush carpet and stone walls, and felt like spirits were lurking around every corner.

We danced the night away, probably drank a little bit too much witch's brew, and ended the evening with a seance performed upstairs of the very spooky barn.  I was asked to host, and play medium, and there was to be someone "knocking" to make it seem like there were spirits present.  Those fake knocks never came, and in the silence, some information came out during the seance that was a little too accurate to be coincidence.  I'm not in any way claiming to be a medium, but there was information that was flowing into my head, and coming out of my mouth, that I couldn't possibly know.  Another guest (whom I've never met before) recently lost her father, and I was happy to pass along some information to validate that he was with her, and doing ok.  

Was it that the veil between the living and the dead is becoming thinner with every day closer to All Hallow's Eve?  Was it the crystals that I brought that provided the perfect energy, or was it Katy sitting next to me, putting her hand on my arm, to help increase the energetic field?  Who Knows!

Saturday night was Theatre Bizarre at the Masonic Temple, in Detroit, MI.  A building with a rich history of it's own, the 7 floors were decorated and presented in such a way that numerous times we said we felt as if we were in a Star Wars or Harry Potter movie.  The decorations and acts were so organic that they didn't seem unusual.  The costumes that people wore were elaborate and unique.  A new experience around every corner.  It was set up like an old time carnival, complete with freak show.  Im sure we missed a lot, with 7 floors of activities and acts.  There was a burlesque stage, a freak show, many bands, a ghost train in a room filled with fog, and so much more.  Highly recommended!

My brother, Seabrook, and I.  This year I am Queen Ravenna, from Snow White & the Huntsman, played by Charlize Theron.  (See Costume Blog).  Seabrook is Dr. Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Definitely one of the best costumes I've seen.

Do you guys remember this scene from Beetlejuice?  What great costumes!  I can't even show you all of the really cool costumes we saw at this show, but by partygoers!

Great shows in the Burlesque Room.  Burlesque dancers, comedians ... ok, that's all we got to see, but I bet there was a lot of cool acts!

The Freak Show room ... contortionists, iron-stomachs, and of course people hanging from the ceiling by their skin.  I thought this one was quite classy.

The only problem is that there were shows going on in every room, on every floor, which means we missed 90% of the acts because we were somewhere else!  Can't wait for next year!  

Peace.  Love.  Serene

REAL Caramel Apples


So this year I tried to make caramel apples (not the unwrap square and throw in a pot), but REAL caramel.  I had tried last year, and it was a runny mess.  Well I figured out the secret ... are you ready for it?


No wonder I screwed it up.  I have very little patience.  It takes a really long time for the caramel to cool after it cooks.  Otherwise it just pools all over the wax paper.  It also has to be a small batch, because it continues to cook in the pan, even off of heat, and my last couple of apples were cloudy, and super sweet, tasting more like praline.  I also read somewhere that you should pour the caramel into another bowl because the pan can continue to cook it.

It also helped to have topping ready and waiting.  That kept the caramel in place better at the bottom.  Have any toppings you may want ready too.  It needs to be put on right after the apple is dipped, otherwise it won't adhere.

So here are the instructions for REAL caramel apples:

In a small saucepan:
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup 
1/2 cup water 

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, swirling the pan (do not stir), until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

slowly whisk in:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
a pinch of salt

Return to low heat and whisk until smooth. Let cool until the caramel is thick enough to coat a spoon. Insert sticks into the stem ends of 6 apples and dip the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Roll in toppings if desired, then let cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

toasted pecans
toasted sliced almonds
chopped peanuts
chopped pretzels
drizzled milk or dark chocolate
sea salt
red hots
candy corn
mini chocolate chips
Rice krispies
Apple pie spice
Reeses pieces
chopped toffee bar
crushed butterfingers
chopped macadamia nuts & toasted coconut flakes
walnuts & dried cranberries
crystallized ginger & toasted sesame seeds
crushed cheese crackers (a twist on apple pie & cheddar cheese)
salted peanuts and caramel corn (ballpark style)
crushed oreo cookies & drizzled white chocolate
graham cracker, melted chocolate, and mini marshmallows (s'mores)
banana chips & melted peanut butter chips
granola, raisins, and m&ms (trail mix)
shredded orange zest & honey
crushed chocolate wafers & gummy worms
chopped peppermint candy over white chocolate

Monday, October 15, 2012

We've Been Ghosted!


Last night I came home from my hockey game, and look what was on my front door!  I had put out my two bags a few days ago, and it WORKED!  Now I have to keep the tradition going!

Peace.  Love.  Serene

Friday, October 12, 2012


I found this on the internet and thought I would shard:  a little game called GHOSTING.  What you do is create a little bag of Halloween goodies, along with a ghost and a letter, and put it on the doorstep of two neighbors.  Then knock and RUN!

Treats:  Whatever you choose
Ghost:  To put on their door to let everyone know they've already been ghosted.  I printed mine, but it could also be made out of tissue paper, or a kleenex over a tootsie pop like when I was a kid.
Letter:  The letter is the instructions of what they should do next, and I put a Halloween poem in mine.        (see below)

My roommate and I got our neighbors the other night.  You should have seen us run and hide behind the cars so they wouldn't see us.  Hilarious!  Now we are waiting to see if the ghost goes up on their doors, or if they "hit" someone else.

Bubble, blubber, squirm and gloop,
Boiling broth of bat's tail soup.
Wobble, slobber, liquid goo,
Add the sole of one old shoe.
Spooky shadows dance around,
Of frogs and rats and snarling hounds.

Steam swirls rising to the roof,
Add one small ear and one old tooth.

Gnarly, scratchy, tickle and itch,
Stir round and round to make it rich.

Mushy, sticky, sizzle and stew,
They're making mischief just for you


Late last night, we left you a treat. The tradition is fun, one we hope you'll repeat.
Take the ghost & pin it on your door, to let others know you need ghosted no more.
Now it's your duty to pass on the surprise, to two more families, we must advise.
Gather some treats and deliver them soon, within two nights, under the light of the moon.
Include a ghost with each package you give, along with this poem for the tradition to live.

1.        Get 2 goodie bags or lunch bags
2.        Fill with treats & a ghost (picture or art)
3.        Put a copy of this letter in each bag
4.        Deliver after dark, ring the door bell, and RUN!
5.        Put your ghost on your door so we know you have been HIT


Spooks. Scares. Serene

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Marquette Hockey

If you're from the upper peninsula of Michigan, or Canada, for that matter, you know the importance of hockey.  Forget about football - hockey is where it's at.  Lucky for me, I got to at least learn the basics as a kid, and develop a not so bad set of skills and I now play on an official beer-league team!

A few years ago, a guy I went to high school with started the Marquette Old Timers Hockey Tournament.  It was a originally for 30 and older guys who just wanted to drink beer and have a good time.  I guess they are now allowing 18+ in the open and novice divisions, and yes, they have also added a women's division.  (Here's Serene for the 3 years they didn't have a women's division:  "Ryan, pleeease can we play?" ... "Ryan, don't you want to see hot chicks beat each other up?" ... "Ryan, your sisters play now - you HAVE to let us play!")

This tournament is the most fun of any tournament I've been to.  Yes, Im a little bit biased because I know almost everyone in town, but ask the rest of the girls!  They had fun too!  And a little bit of A SERENE LIFE nature thrown in ... A perfect weekend to forget about real life!  So after calling the girls who dropped everything to play for my team last year (the mqt girls), asked my team, and several actually wanted to play (the detroit girls)!  And then, thanks to KT, we picked up a few great players from the NMU (the nmu girls).  Here's the team!

First, the hockey:  Great games.  Great hockey.  Probably the hardest hockey I've ever played.  2 games on Saturday.  We lost the first game on Sat morning, which we found out put us out of finals contention.  We won our Sat night game 5-0.  We won our Sun afternoon game 10-0.  Yes, you heard right folks - ten to zip.  Towards the end of the game the opposing goalie actually skated out of the net and PLAYED THE PUCK all the way to the other end!  It was so much fun, I already can't wait to play next year.  And my season hasn't even started yet!

On more note - I am so proud of my girls.  So we had a $ dollar sign on our jersey for a friend in Marquette that very recently passed in a suspicious nature.  At the end of our Sunday game, our team presented his mom with the jersey with HIS number on it.  We didn't know it, but he was also a huge Detroit Tigers fan, so the old English D was especially sentimental.  There wasn't a dry eye in the house ...

Now backwards to Fri ... A little bit of time spent on Presque Isle.  No, I didn't get my time at Serene Point, but I still got some of the energy ... and the girls got to experience!  And Sam took some really cool pictures.  Love this yoga pose.

OH!  Did I mention that KIM JUMPED IN LAKE SUPERIOR!?  Brrr....

Friday afternoon 3rd street parade in honor of the tournament.  What other town puts on a parade for a hockey tournament??  Aww family time ...

pub crawl Fri night.  Ok, maybe I'll leave those stories on the bus.  Lap dances.  "I think he likes you".  Stolen pitchers.  Lots of beers.  Lots of boys.  Missed the NMU girls.

Sugarloaf mountain:  So if the hockey wasn't enough exercise, we decided to organize some of the troops and scale the side of a mountain.  Some took the "easy" trail, some took the "difficult" trail, and Sea and I decided to actually go rock climbing.  Easier for him since his legs are twice as long.  And of course, I can't resist an open space ... always handstands.

My Mom:  She's the best.  She put up with 5 of us girls, plus my brother, and always a smile.  She came to everyone one of our games, and even COACHED US!  She's a great coach too!  Maybe she has a new career ...  She also had food, made breakfast Sun morning, and had a huge mess to clean up after us.  THANKS MOM!!

What a weekend ... it just doesn't get better.

Peace.  Love.  Serene

This is the life.

As some of you know, and all of you will know in the upcoming weeks,
I Heart October

I love Halloween.  I love leaves that are crunchy and colorful.  
I love pumpkins.  
I love soup.  I love sweaters.  
I love love horseback riding.  I love apples.  
I love cold crisp nights and sunny days.  
I love October

Oh yeah,  Back to my story.   I called my friend Katy, and offered a late night walk.  I forgot how much I liked autumn walks until last night.  I was looking for a little bit of exercise, and Katy is dog-sitting 2 dogs.  We leashed up (them, not us), and headed around the block.  With every step in crunchy leaves, I smiled.  Every time I saw a house with orange lights lit, I was mesmerized.

So I just wanted to share ... this season is short, get outside and enjoy it!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Farmers Market

So yesterday I made it to the farmer's market after several weeks of out of town and other plans.  I walked around looking for perfect veggies and good prices, stopped by Dirty Girl Farms for my latest loose teas and supplements (flax seed, chia seed, marshmallow root, and nettle).

I also looked at every shape and size of squash and pumpkin.  Yes, autumn is here!

I walked out with my arms full of cut flowers, carrots, tons of greens for green juice, peanut butter, dill for chicken soup, teas, my first pumpkin of the season, and huge containers of Mums.

And that's when it hit me.  I was smiling.  For nothing!  There is something about the farmer's market that actually changes my physiology and floods my body with endorphins!  The more I thought about it, the more I realized it is the same feeling I get when I am out at a barn and going horseback riding.  And sometimes when gardening.  I say sometimes because sometimes I get in over my head and I get sick of gardening before I finish my project, and I get overwhelmed.

BUT to continue my "high", I decided to clean up my garden for fall when I got home.  I cut down all of my perennials that have started to brown, and I planted 100 bulbs.  I have 50 more but I decided to save those for another day.

So I guess my parents had felt my energy before I was even born and bought the farm with the huge garden where I was born.  I'll do my best to grab that feeling more often!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Monday, September 17, 2012

So close, yet so far away

Halloween is almost here!  

I've been getting catalogs, notices of upcoming parties, the Halloween USA store has opened, and I am EXCITED!  If you know me at all, you know that Halloween is my Christmas.  I turn into a little kid.  I want hay rides, pumpkins, horseback riding, haunted houses (although most are too scary for me), witches, skeletons, apple orchards, sweaters, leaves, and decorating.

Please share any new ideas you may have!

Already planned:  Trips to the cider mill, Witches-Only halloween dinner party, Halloweekends at Cedar Point, Pirate party, Fancy party in Birmingham, Scary party in Detroit (, and Im decorating all this week!


Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Renaissance Festival

Wenches, and mead.  Swords and jousting.  Turkey legs and ax-throwing.  Men in armor.  Oh yes, once again, it was time for the
~ Renaissance Festival ~

We donned our corsets and skirts, braided our hair, and grabbed our pewter mugs.  Michigan has one of the best festivals.  I've never been to another, so I guess I am only assuming, but our festival includes well-standing shops that stay up all year, and are authentic in wooden beams and creaky floors.

I would highly recommend experiencing this festival if you never have before.  It brings you back in time with people speaking with accents and donning traditional garb.  There is lots of good food, music, comedy shows, grape stomping, costuming everywhere, clothes, jewelry, perfumes & oils, swords & weapons, and household and kitchen goods in metal, pewter, glass, and wood.  It's amazing!

 Katy bought a real steel-boning corset!  And we both bought new skirts to complete our authentic outfits.  This is our before and after.

The characters are amazing.  This woman was on a roof just yelling insults at people.  Do not try this at home - she was part of the show.  The gentleman on the right was fully armed with several swords, axes, and other various sharp and pointy things.  He was guarding the sword house (all for purchase and very heavy!)

 We had great fun watching the grape stomping.  I thought some of the actor's costumes were amazing!

The renaissance festival would not be complete without routing for your knight at the jousting show.  They really go all out - at least 3 very large solid wood lances were shattered, and 2 of the knight were thrown from their horses tumbling and flipping backwards to the ground.

So the moral of the story?  Get out there and do something unexpected.  Who knows - you might even like it!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.