Friday, November 28, 2014


For FOTO FRIDAY this week hopefully you'll share something whether it's an object/action that has become a tradition at your Thanksgiving celebration.  

Share a pic and a few words about it.

I've decided to share the turkey that changes in appearance due to body type each year but has the same head. Martha Stewart many moons ago shared this turkey idea and it's been gracing our buffet/dining Thanksgiving table ever since. 

Gobble, gobble
A rich orange kuri squash as a body made our bread stick turkey a welcomed colorful guest at the buffet table this year.

Did you catch the story on one of last week's FOTO FRIDAY pics:
If not, take a look:

So what's one of your holiday traditions? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey Day

      Wishes to you and yours for a very Happy Thanksgiving
                        from the End of the Rainbow Valley. 

         What ?  You thought I wasn't going to take the day off?  
                 It's a holiday. Go enjoy it, I am planning on it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ciao, Chow and Color

The Happy Bookers had a bittersweet evening as we bid one of our group, Violeta, "Ciao" as she heads for a new job after completing her degree and accepting a position as a Clinical Specialist '3' way over on the over side of the country in Mead, Oregon. (If anyone has friends there, do let me know so we can network.)

The Happy Bookers minus  Susie who's recuperating from foot surgery...

 As we broke bread around the kitchen table 'chowing' down a tasty home cooked dinner by Nancy, we spoke of Violeta's upcoming move. Like where is Mead? Only 4 days of snow per year sounds pretty appealing. Who knows, it just may be a future Book Club trip!  

As during any book discussion and specifically this month's read of Americanah about the universal realities of racism, Violeta shared her sentiments of home and being an immigrant. My favorite line of the evening as one of our members was talking about her Lebanese family's degrees of skin darkness, Violeta, chimed in, "So, what color are you?" Exactly, what color are any of us? 

Oh Violeta your insights, directness and presence will truly be missed.  It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving for me to be thankful that our paths crossed. Thank you for being you and bringing me into such a delightful group of women! Wherever you land, you will add so much color. xoxo 

Fare thee well Violeta!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Americanah, The Realities of Race

I am so deeply saddened by the lack of an indictment in the Ferguson murder. Since the Ferguson incident occurred, there was hope justice would prevail. 

In last night's statement there was no mention of fear and the role fear played in the end result, another dead Black male.  The fear held by both a Black youth being arrested and also the fear of the policeman making the arrest. 

Can we measure fear or better yet measure a fear fueled by a history of racism?  White privilege reared its ugly head once again in a high profile case and it sickened those of us who recognize it for what it is. Our justice system and society will remain broken until change occurs. 

My book group tonight will be discussing "Americanah" by Chimandra Ngozi Adichie, a story about racism and blackness in America.  Will recognition of our White Privilege allow us to see how the color of our skin affects our every day experience whether we live in Nigeria, Britain /the United States? If you haven't read this powerful read, do. And then talk about it. It's probably the most honest and empathetic book I've read about the universal human experience. 

There's a lot of work to do. White privilege is just that. White. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Mint

When I think of visiting the mint, I conjure up a family trip  to Denver with the kids seeing money being made. It was a fun trip  but last Thursday after perusing a small art fair with buddy Lynn, a new "mint" memory was made. All that shopping had left us hungry so we decided to try out 'The Mint', one of La Crosse's newest restaurants. One thing this town certainly can use is a new eatery. Seriously.

Fortunately for the town two former city chefs have started a business venture with a different twist as it's aimed at locavores/ recruiting new aficionados. How can people know the difference of what fresh food tastes like unless it's offered? 
We have plenty of opportunities to eat chain pre-fab tasteless food. But, it does come at a price to buy local and support smaller businesses. That being said menus change with the seasons, appetizers are under $10 and entrees are priced mid range in the 20's.

The Mint's housed in the once 'Kate's on State' locale catty cornered to Cartright, UWL's student union, in a terrific  neighborhood of both students and faculty at 1810 State. The once front parking spaces have been converted to patio dining. Doors open at 5:00 for dinner.

Posted next to the upcycled bar (wooden top from the former The Mint's ceiling) for all to see are their local suppliers.

Rosemary infused water added a special touch to city water ( I'm a well girl now). Although there were a lot of yummy sounding possibilities due to the later hour we decided not to order an entree but rather from the aperitif list which was just as interesting: for example: a Lynch Farms "Braised Chicken Tinga" on Lacinato Kale & an herbed polenta cake, pickled beauty Heart radish and Roth Gran Queso Reserve to name one in particular.   This piqued my interest but  coincidentally we both decided to go with the Ridgeland Harvest Butternut Squash and Bourbon Maple Syrup Ravioli with a sage cream sauce and cranberry compote with a side of a crusty roll with sage butter...

Although adventuresome in the kitchen when out, I like to order things that I wouldn't make/take the time to make from scratch, ie: pasta. So the ravioli and its seasonal stuffing sounded like a hearty, good thing to try on a cold evening.
If you're looking for quantity, this might not be your kind of place but fresh it is. The wait staff is amiable and your palate can be expanded. I hope The Mint makes it. We all know the restaurant business is very fickle. 

One of my favorite places to frequent when I go back home to Arkansas is a place called Root Cafe in Little Rock. Here's a recent newspaper link:ROOT CAFE The place is always busy. The Root Cafe actually has a scrapbook to peruse about their suppliers photos and all for those waiting to be seated / interested. It makes it all the more personal. Hint, hint The Mint.

Anyhow, The Mint can benefit and learn from others's  experience and success. Remember to stay true and to keep it "fresh."

Friday, November 21, 2014


FOTO FRIDAY this week has to do with the items that have  special stories a name can evoke. Let's see if you'll be willing to share. I was at an art fair last night with maybe 12 artists, most of whom share a mutual friend. One in particular after selling me this little guy told me a story about my purchase that has to do with the mutual artist friend...

Here's the pic and the guy's name is Anti Freeze. 

Talk amongst yourselves.  Let's see if anyone rises to this challenge and even if she doesn't. You all can add your own interpretation/pic of this/another story/object. 

This pic was taken this morning after I heard a sound coming from the kitchen. After investigating, look who I found under the garbage sack in the garbage can. I have named him Mickey. Story?


Mickey Story: Susan,  thanks for adding 'cat' to the possibility of stories about Mickey but it was a bit more involved.  Daughter Lori who lives in Atlanta had an uninvited guest in her kitchen too. It kept avoiding/escaping her trap endeavors. How could that be? So she got a larger rodent trap and caught the culprit taking a video to share with all. She named him Mickey but it was apparent that by his size (and it wasn't from eating well at her house) he was not a mouse but you guessed it... a rat. Mickey was taken for a ride and it wasn't to Disneyland either.

The last theme was :FOTO FRIDAY:TAKING FLIGHT You can add your pics at any time.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let's Split This Popsicle Joint...

About five miles south of La Crosse lies Goose Island.  I've previously mentioned the new observation area which is about a mile south on Hwy 35 past the park's entrance.  The tundra swans, snow geese, pelicans and ducks love congregating there. 


These backwaters of the Mississippi are their refueling stations before they head South for warmer weather.
I am sure the birds were quite surprised to have ice forming during their early November stopover in addition to blustery winter air, snow already falling, not to mention single digit temps... Heck, we humans were.

As all 'snow birds' apparently know as soon as the temps are below freezing, if not before, it's time to blow this popsicle joint.

By Sunday only a few stragglers were left and poof they were gone, just like that... two weeks before Thanksgiving this year. 
Smart birds... 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some Birds Just Aren't Too Bright...

If you take 6 1/2 pieces of candy corn, 1 small and 1 large cupcake, some frosting, sprinkles/nuts, an anise flower shaped cookie, a small bended piece of red licorice and 2 mini chocolate chips, what do you get?

Well, you get a turkey, of course!

Nobody ever said these birds are smart or else they would have headed South with their other bird friends.

Besides the cold, Thanksgiving is next week already.

 You knew that, right?

Thanks to Laura of 'Laura's Baking Delights' for sharing her culinary insights and a nice way to spend a cold winter evening. Who knows maybe the littles will be making these for our Thanksgiving feast here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Prophetic Voice in La Crosse, AMOS

Sunday night AMOS celebrated its 7th year in existence. AMOS, you may remember from previous postings, is "an interfaith, congregation based coalition working for a more just and compassionate community." 

Ten local congregations participate in giving their support both monetarily and physically, insuring the ongoing work of the the task forces of Food Insecurity, Environment, Health Care, Immigration, Restorative Justice and last but not least, the AMOS recipients of this year's special Seeds of Justice: Hmong Advocacy.

Curtis Miller, one of AMOS's founding clergy, presented the Hmong Advocacy task force this reward for having completed work in numerous arenas:  repatriation issues re: Thailand's treatment of the Hmong, changes in interpreting health care services, adult mentorship for Hmong youth, educational project participation, collaboration with an area hospital for a community garden for both elders and youth, a leadership workshop, continued education, Memorial Day service participation, voter education with transportation, continued focus for parents involvement in children's school and mentoring, nursing care program and area hotline, eggroll production for social benefits and profit and... citizenship. 
Maureen, team member shares her mother's naturalization paper
In 2012 an urgency was recognized for citizenship classes, naturalization and incurred expenses for 35 individuals and by 2013, 12  received certificates of naturalization and com-pleted 25 applications for minor children.

 Members of the task force expressed their appreciation for the bonds formed and reasons why the relationships and work achieved was important to each participant. Friend Maureen shared her reason being part of the task force due to her parents coming to this country as immigrants and having to go through this arduous citizenship process. She even had in tow her mother's naturalization papers... Special.

Besides the Hmong Advocacy Task Force recognition, the event's attendees were treated to music by the group Celtic Cross both before, during and after dinner. The musical group generously returned their earnings and the raffle's 50-50 winner also donated her winnings back to AMOS. So many generous people in one room...

The smorgasbord Dinner was buffet style with each congregation donating to the potluck menu of fruit salads, jello salads, Middle Eastern salad, egg rolls, green beans, chicken, bread, squash, kugel, beverages and desserts.  

We were definitely sated.

With bellies full, our key note speaker for the evening was Richard Kyte, Viterbo University professor of Philosophy and Director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership. His topic was Water Ethics: Commons Dialogue for a Commons Resource. He extended Aldo Leopold's writings on land ethics to water and man's biblical responsibility to be a steward. " Who in our society speaks for everyone;who advocates for the common good; who inhabits a perspective beyond particular interests?" 

Those present had our souls, stomachs and minds fed to help us continue our work for social justice. There is always work to be done...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Raise the Roof

Habitat for Humanity has a wonderful new facility with plenty of space for their offices, store floor space and  receiving of goods called Habitat ReStore. 

In fact, this past week there was plenty of floor space for a Gala and Auction fundraiser which one of the organizers told me will become an annual event...  

Admission was free and guests even received goody bags with coupons, magnets and a head massager upon arrival.  In addition, guest book signatures came with a bidding number to be written on the back of raffle tickets.  (BTW a great time and energy saver.)

Once again as in any community event, it takes a village. Countless hours were spent in pre-planning to make the evening run smoothly.  Numerous merchants, both large and small, donated appetizers, drinks, and items to be auctioned/raffled. 

Tickets purchased for $1/ ticket could be used towards beverages,
small and large Chinese raffle items and games. Yes games, there was black jack, ring toss for bottles of wine and Plinko for merchant coupons. 

Tables were set up for a variety of silent auction items in addition to the raffle tables.

My fingers are still crossed to be the recipient of one of the many bid on items...  

Patrons were treated to musical entertainment by the Belfany/ Leithold/Quinn Jazz Trio and  Under Paris Skies. I bet this is a first for these musicians to play in the 'paint section'. 

Their music was indeed 'colorful' and appreciated adding to the evening's ambience.

This year's Raise the Roof fundraiser had 2 events with a Concert also being held on Saturday in downtown La Crosse at the Cavalier Theatre. Performing were the Smoking Bandits, Tugg, Greg Hall and the Wrecking Ball, Pick 6 and Neill Young Tribute.  

As always 'Raise the Roof' wasn't the only show in town on either night but organizers were appreciative for those who turned out/ helped sponsor this good cause.

As soon as I know numbers I will definitely post them... 
 It's terrific Habitat for Humanity has such a supportive community. As long as there is a need for housing and caring citizens, we can work together towards eradicating homelessness.

* The new Habitat ReStore has a La Crosse address, 3181 Berlin Dr. is actually one mile east of Valley View Mile on Hwy 16. It will be on your right.

Friday, November 14, 2014


FOTO FRIDAY this week has to do with the cold winter air that has blown in over most of the country. So where/what would you like to go/do during the darker days of winter? Share a pic of a favorite place/hobby  for the upcoming winter months.

In the End of the Rainbow Valley the puzzle table has already been pulled out and we've almost finished the 1000 piece 'country scene' puzzle. If whoever would like it next lets me know we will be glad to send it to you and then that next person could pass it on to the next interested party and so on... 'Sounds like a plan to me. 

This could be your next project. Just let me know and it will be passed on...
Remember you can share a photo on any of the FOTO FRIDAY topic's at any time. Just attach your photo to a FB message /email.
Did you see last week's: Smile and things don't seem sooo bad/A Smile Goes a Long Way.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Makhani:Something to Crow About

Cold blustery winds have blown in our first snow of the season and although the accumulation was much less than originally predicted, we did get a couple inches in some areas and it is cold. What's a better way than to spend the day with friends having an art day?

An extra surprise!
Some might remember my first experience with a clay called fimo when polished eggs were the finished product. Well I got reacquainted with the clay at friend Colleen's table and spent the majority of the day making a cork stopper adornment, a very decorated Altoids box and an embellished pin. And if you look very closely you will notice what the chicken made...

Speaking of chicken,  Colleen's lunch entree hit the spot as it's a 'yummy' Indian dish called Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken).  

You can adjust the cayenne according to your heat preferences of either milder or spicier.

Here's what you'll need:

1 T peanut oil                              1 T peanut oil
1 shallot, finely chopped             1 lb boneless, skinless chicken            
1/4 white onion chopped                  thighs cut into bite size pieces
2 T butter                                     1 t gram masala
2 t lemon juice                             1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 T ginger garlic paste                 1 T cornstarch
1 t gram masala                            1/4 c water
1 t chili powder                             Rice and Naan bread as sides
1 t ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 c plain yogurt
1 c half and half
1 c tomato puree
1/4 t cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper

Heat 1 T oil at medium high heat in lg saucepan 
Saute shallot and onion
Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic pasted, 1t gram masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf.
Cook 1 minute stirring.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and set aside. 
Heat 1 T oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.
Cook chicken until browned, about 10 min.
Reduce heat, season with 1 t gram masala and cayenne.
Stir into sauce slowly spooning in sauce and reduce liquid.
until chicken is no longer pink. 
Stir chicken into sauce.

Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into sauce.
Cook 5-10 minutes until thickens. 

Serve atop rice. 
(Hint: Adding tumeric gives the rice a yellow appearance)
And definitely have some naan on hand to use as an utensil and help you become clean that plate like I did.

Recipe: Courtesy of

Link to Fimo eggs blog entry:Eggs-actly

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Money Makes the World Go Round...

I attended my first University Cultural Tea in a long time.  There was a really nice attendance and a full room. 

Now held in the Hall of Nations in Centennial Hall, it was very appropos for the gathering.  The format has changed as the original idea was to allow an informal socialization time between campus students and staff followed by a short program  showcasing various  UW-L international students's culture. The presenters would choose a topic and present it as we continued to munch on international snacks and sip tea/ coffee. There would be questions after the presentation. 

Well, there were still snacks in addition to welcomed warm drinks including cider on this cold day but alas no socialization time. It was all 'business.' Literally, as the day's topic was business and each table had a facilitator who would make a brief presentation re:business in their country. 

My table's presenter, a finance major from China shared information about the major banking institution in China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. It turns out American Express owns a nice chunk of its holdings.  You should check out Wikipedia to learn more how humongous this institution is. 

After a mere 15 minutes, facilitators switched tables. Not really enough time to discuss anything. 

Our next student presenter was a senior in business from Hungary. Did you know Hungary has the largest tax in Europe at 27%? Wow and we complain about 5.5% in Wisconsin. Besides agriculture, tourism is a very important industry in Hungary. 

 Our presenter has a brother who recently opened a coffee shop in Hungary so he spoke about tourism's impact on the restaurant business. Wait staff must go to language school as they are required to know at least 2 languages, their own, English /Slovakian to be able to converse with restaurant clientele. After receiving at least an intermediate language ability, they are hired as "full" time employees with a salary above minimum wage and 10% tips considered middle class employment. The success of a restaurant differs from the States where marketing does not play such a crucial role with limited if any advertising/ billboards. In his country it is more word of mouth for the business's first year...

Well time was up before we could learn more from other facilitators as 8 of last year's business interns would give short recaps of their international internships.

In today's global world it certainly would behoove us all to learn as much about other countries as possible. Kudos to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for offering these international possibilities to their students and preparing them to enter the Global Economy and World.  There sure is a lot to learn in our ever changing world.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Be a Turkey, Hindi 'll Be Needed

Natureman has long time acquaintances from living in this area for over 30 years. That's a lot of history. One such friend who actually helped  build the porch on the old house, has a yearly pre-Thanksgiving potluck. Even though the invite has always been extended, I've never been able to go.  

Sunday was time again for the November get-together and this time I was in town and could attend. But this year was different as it was to be a Soup and Sandwich potluck as a sendoff to wish Larkin, their daughter well in her new job.  Larkin, a Spanish major who couldn't find an job opening in Central/ South America is finding herself packing bags for the other side of the world. 

One of Larkin's Aunts  and  Grandma
Some 30 folks, extended family and friends, not only enjoyed  amazing soups, numerous breads, cheeses and desserts but also heard first hand about Larkin's charge in helping start up an International School in Ahmabadad, India.  WOW. Very exciting indeed.

Larkin is no stranger to travel and most recently taught in Korea but has also spent time in Argentina besides other travels. This job endeavor is a lot further away. So wishes flowed of Som theek se rahana  (to stay well) from Aunts, Uncles and Grandma...

Mother Rita with Larken's sister Bri
Parents Rita and Mike and sister Bri also send Larkin off with wishes for her to Apna Dhyan Rakhna (take care)  and Thik Se Rahana Vahan (Stay Well There).
*Hey Bri will be an only child now... She hadn't thought of that before.

Larkin, Mom and Friend encouraging penpal program with her
third graders
Family friends also also added their warmest wishes and requests jate hi chitti likhana (as soon as you get there, write.) Of course, I encouraged Larkin to have a blog with a lot of pictures. I, like many others, will never have that type of opportunity. There's nothing more exciting than being a voyeur into a world traveler becoming immersed in another culture.  
                    Enjoy this lifetime adventure Larkin...
              We all wish you  - Shubh Yatra (Bon Voyage)!

Monday, November 10, 2014

If I Say Thin Mint, You say...

Hannah's cup cake tray is polished off...
It's been a long time since my kids were in scouts but this past Saturday I was able to be present at a Girl Scout function where cupcakes, not cookies, were the program. Well to be honest those Girl Scout cookie flavors were to be replicated in the cupcake recipes...  My little friend Hannah's troop participated in this fundraiser for the Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau Girl Scout Cupcake Challenge.

The entrants paid a $5 entrant fee and the cup cakes sold for $1 a piece in addition to the girls's puzzle art work being auctioned off with all monies going to the Scholarship Fund.

The sale/ competition took place at the Trempealeau Elementary Craft Fair where 30 vendors and crafters had booths. 

In the cafeteria area besides lunch and snacks for sale, 14 different cookie flavored cupcakes were judged on appearance, creativity, taste, Girl Scout cookiness (flavor) and texture by 3 judges. 

Each entrant made a dozen cupcakes withdrawing one for the judges and the remainder were for sale. 

Pretty, right?

No store bought mixes nor frostings could be used.  Girl Scouts could work with another scout and entrants under 12 could have adult supervision.

One winner's Mom shared her daughter's experience recounting the Mom's reminder  to check on the baking cup cakes and her daughter saying she 'knew.' You parents know that response, right? Well, that first batch burnt so the scout was up with her partner until one in the morning baking another batch. 
A valuable baking lesson learned I'd say.

The 3 categories were : Amateur, Professional and Girl Scout.

Hand drawn plates were awarded to the winners in addition to porcelain cup cake piggy banks for all the participants. 

The best part of this endeavor is that the girls earned almost $450.00 towards the scholarship. 
                   Now that's really sweet, don't you think?