December 2011

Dear Friend,

Looking forward to the New Year, causes me to look back on the previous 12 months and try to appraise the happenings with a new view.  Quite a bit has happened in the last 12 months…so much so, that some of it has jumbled together in my brain.  This year I am making the ever-faithful Pro/Con list for the events of 2011.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

L&W stepping out of the box and attending our first ever Art Fair…Pro.  🙂

Online sales for L&W down this year compared to last year…Con.   😦

Displaying our art at a local “Mom & Pop” store/gas station…Pro.   🙂

Two sales at above store within 30 days…Pro.  🙂

Shifting my paradigm and now employed as a manicurist at a day spa (which, in all honesty, is something that I REALLY enjoy doing)…Pro.   🙂

Patrick playing around with and learning new techniques in photography which make our photos even better (i.e., shifting his paradigm)…Pro.   🙂

I was basically unemployed while going through my surgery and healing process from November 2010 through February 2011…Con.   😦

Doctor bills (need I say more?)…Con.   😦

Making a full recovery…Pro.  🙂

Healthy and happy children…Pro.   🙂

Happy (but bored) 6-year-old getting into monumental trouble at school with his teacher (he got suspended in February when he was in Kindergarten and then in November (1st grade) got in trouble again – just not suspended)…Con.   😦

Family squabbles getting way out of hand…Con.   😦

A beautiful, albeit green, Christmas…Pro.   🙂

Having a great family and being able to share my life with my soul mate and our beautiful children…Pro.   🙂

So I am looking forward to 2012 as a year of better understanding of the differences each person possesses, the Green Bay Packers bringing home another Superbowl win to Titletown, displaying and selling more of Patrick’s photography in even more locations in our area and online, more happiness and laughter with the kids and, of course, peace on Earth.

Some of the new photos that Pat has been working on will be posted in our Etsy store in the coming months:

We will start posting these in January at our Etsy online store, and at the local businesses that have welcomed us in.  I will be starting our referral program in January as well.  Referral program, you say?  How can you, as an online Photo business, have a referral program?  Easy, says I.  Starting in January I will be  sending cards to all past customers with the details of our referral program.  Any past customer who refers a new customer will receive EITHER 10% or free shipping (their choice) on their next purchase AND the new customer (for being referred) will receive the same.  If they are an online client all they need to do is let me know in the “Notes to Seller” who they were referred by and which discount they want.  If they contact me any other way, same deal – just tell me the name of the person who referred them and which discount.  This promotion CAN be used in conjunction with our First Friday Art Walk sales, which starting in 2012 will be upgraded to a 15% sale price on every item in the online store.  Which, if my math is correct, means that a referred buyer can get either 25% off the product of their choice, OR 15% off AND free shipping!  OMG…I must be crazy!  But, that’s what you love about me anyway, right?

I wish you nothing but peace, love and happiness in the New Year.

Stay tuned, dear friend, for the latest and greatest of 2012.  I look forward to hearing from you, and will speak to you again at the end of January.  Ta Ta For Now.



November 2011

Dear Friend,

October and November were pretty busy this year! We attended the second art fair at the Loosen Farmstead near Holy Hill. That Saturday we had our best day ever! Every framed copy of “Eagle Eye” sold, plus one framed “Yellow Finch”, a bunch of bookmarks, a few ACEOs and a keychain here and there. We also set up more of our framed prints at a local gas station/market!

October is also a busy month on the family front. There are more birthdays for our family in October than any other month of the year. I’d like to extend a loving birthday wish to my father Jim, my sister Leah, my nephew Tom, my niece Amedee Alice, my sister-in-law Amy, my husband Patrick, and our daughter Mackenzie. My birthday is also in October, but it seems kind of weird to wish myself a Happy Birthday, don’t you think?

For his birthday dinner Patrick asked me to make Lasagna Rolls. That is the recipe I will be sharing with you this month. You will need one box of lasagna noodles, 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce, 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided), 16 ounces Ricotta (or cottage) cheese, grated Parmesan or Romano, 1/2 cup diced onion, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, and if you wish, one 10 ounce package frozen spinach and/or one pound mild Italian sausage.

Par boil the noodles just until you can roll them. While the noodles are swimming and then draining, sauté the sausage, if using, and the onions in a very small amount of olive oil. Let cool once cooked through. Mix 2 & 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, the ricotta, Parmesan/Romano, spinach, (thawed and squeezed dry) and the seasonings (to taste). Add the sausage and onions and mix well. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 10×15 pan. Lay out the noodles on some wax paper. Spread a small amount of the cheese mixture along the length of each noodle and roll them up. Place each roll seam side down in the pan. Cover each roll with a small amount of sauce. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Spread the rest of the mozzarella over the noodles and bake for 5 minutes more or until melted. That’s it. If you use the sausage AND the spinach you have a well-balanced meal.

The new job is going quite well, if a little slow at times. It’s nice to be working again, but I do miss the kids. My greatest challenge seems to be a tie with coordinating babysitters for the two nights I work and getting the laundry and housework done. I’m glad to have one day during the week to schedule a whole bunch of stuff to get done. I now know why my mother didn’t go to work until I was 16 and my youngest sibling was in the first grade. It is a beast trying to get everything done! My bosses are wonderful and have asked me to bring in some of our photos to sell there too. It is so nice to not work in an environment where everyone is out for themselves. We all work as a team at the salon, and even the clients notice the atmosphere and love to come back.

November has always been a time for me to look back on the year and remember the little things, and then to dream about what is to come. This year started with healing. I had to physically and mentally heal after my surgery last December. I know I’m still not where I was before the surgery as far as my health and weight are concerned, but I’m getting there. Our son is acting out at school, whether it is from not enough attention from us, or just because he can’t help but say whatever is on his mind, we don’t know yet, but we are working on some strategies to get him back on track.

My fearless hunter has brought home one wild turkey so far this year. That girl was yummy! We’ve seen plenty of good bucks on the trail cam but so far he hasn’t had any luck bagging one. I would love to stock the freezer full for the winter with venison and wild turkey, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that his luck changes soon.

Pat and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on the 20th. Pat went hunting (no luck again!), I picked up wreaths that my son sold, and we celebrated my great-nephew’s First Birthday.

Thanksgiving was held here this year. Although my sister and one of my brothers couldn’t be with us this time, we still had a great day, a Packer victory, great food and fun. The kids made out their wish lists and copies were given to all. Our family, as large as it is, still enjoys being together, and for that I will always be thankful.

Stop by and check out our store for some great Christmas presents! Jolly Old Saint Nick will be here in the blink of an eye!

Until we meet again. TTFN


There’s no food in the effing house!

I work on Thursday nights until 8. Patrick has to pick up the kids after work (my sister-in-law meets their bus), bring them home and get them to bed. My brother’s family will feed them if Pat is late picking them up. One recent Thursday night at about 8:10 I came in from work, hugged the kids goodnight, sent them off to the land of nod, and asked Pat what was wrong. He was looking particularly owly. “There’s no food in the effing house!”, he said. I told him he could make a sandwich, to which I was told he was tired of sandwiches. So I took out a frozen chicken thigh, the Italian Salad Dressing, a can of diced tomatoes, and about 1 cup of frozen vegetables.

I chopped up the chicken after I partially thawed it, heated up the salad dressing in a small sauce pan and sautéed the chicken. Once the chicken was cooked through, I added the vegetables and a little water (like 1/2 cup). Once that came to a boil, I turned down the heat to low and added 1 & 1/2 handfuls of egg noodles. I covered it and let it cook for 10 minutes. I then grated up some Asiago cheese and called it dinner.

No food in the effing house indeed!

Stop by the website and take a look at our latest daily postings. If you have any questions, send me a message.


Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recipe Monday – Easy Broccoli Chicken Alfredo

Now that I’m back in the grind, here’s an easy recipe for those days when you don’t have a lot of time.

You will need:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, partially thawed, and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin is better for you)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water or milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup broccoli florets cut in small pieces
8 ounces bite size pasta (bow ties, penne, or ziti work really well for this recipe)

What you do:
Cook the pasta just until al dente – it should still be firm not mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water so it doesn’t stick.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook chicken until lightly browned and cooked through. Add the broccoli, soup and water or milk. Mix well. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and stir. Continue to simmer.

When the pasta is ready, put back into pot. Add the sauce/chicken mixture to the pasta. Stir. Simmer 5 more minutes or until heated through.

We’re gearing up for the Holy Hill Art & Farm Market this weekend.  We’re coming down to the wire!  If you can, please stop by and say hi.  That’s all for today!

Have a great week!  TTFN

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My motivation

Dear friend,

Since I last sat down with iPad in hand to write this blog, I’ve run through a cycle of creativity, loss of motivation, good ideas, bad ideas, and fits of frustration. I have been diligently trying to get my stock set up for the Holy Hill Art & Farm Market. Patrick and I are going to sit down this weekend to decide which pictures he wants to print up and which ones he wants to frame. He also has an appointment to take portraits for a high school senior this weekend. All we need is a place she would like to have them taken (have backdrop will travel).

You know those envelopes your photos come in when you get them developed? I’m making them now. They are a great way to keep your photo memories organized and mine come in a variety of colors and funky patterns.  I have also worked up a pattern for a small box to keep ACEO collections in.  They will also come in a variety of colors.  What is an ACEO?  Check out this blog post or view some of ours here.

So what motivates me? My children are the first thing that come to mind, obviously. I will do whatever it takes to ensure their happiness and success in life, even if it means stepping back and letting them make their own mistakes. You’ve got to learn somehow, and sometimes the hard way is the only way.

I like to instigate life changes every once in a while, just to keep my structure from sinking and becoming stuck in the muddy bottom. Luckily, Patrick seems to understand my gypsy tendencies, and has become pretty adept at rolling with the changes. I don’t like being bored, and sometimes a certain place or job or part of the routine needs to go just to liven things up. My most recent paradigm shift was with my out-of-the-house job. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a Certified Pharmacy Technician. My coworkers were great, most of the patients were wonderful, and it is a very good job. But, it was time to move on. I am now a licensed manicurist at a great day spa 10 minutes from my home. It is refreshing to change things up every now and again. That motivates me. Stuck in a rut? Change just one small detail, and the ruts just may disappear.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Have you ever shifted your paradigm? What were the results for you?


Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 10:00 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

My iPod’s Top 25

Dear friend,

I like music. All kinds of music. No matter what I’m doing around the house, my iPod is blasting out some music for me to sing along to. I have a playlist of my favorite songs (you know those songs that really speak to you, or remind you of something, someone, some time), but lately I’ve just been letting the iPod shuffle up all of its musical content and play what it will. My musical tastes run the gamut from 50’s and 60’s, through R&B and country, to good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

So without further ado, here is the top 25 most played songs on my iPod as of Noon today.

1. There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with the Radio by Aaron Tippin
2. I Got It Honest by Aaron Tippin
3. Cadillac Jack Favor by Clint Black
4. You’ve Got to Stand for Something by Aaron Tippin
5. Little Bitty by Alan Jackson
6. Who’s Cheating Who by Alan Jackson
7. My Life by Billy Joel
8. Piano Man by Billy Joel
9. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You by Bryan Adams
10. Ten Thousand Angels by Mindy McCready
11. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
12. Cuts Like A Knife by Bryan Adams
13. Hotel California by The Eagles
14. That’s Why I’m Here by Kenny Chesney
15. Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar
16. Only The Good Die Young by Billy Joel
17. Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song by BJ Thomas
18. Cowboy Cadillac by Garth Brooks
19. Nothin’ but the taillights by Clint Black
20. Working Man’s Ph.D. By Aaron Tippin
21. In Another’s Eyes by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood
22. How You Ever Gonna Know by Garth Brooks
23. Like the Rain by Clint Black
24. Did I Shave My Legs For This? By Deanna Carter
25. Wasted Time by The Eagles

That’s quite a few sad songs…I’ll have to do something about that. What’s in your Top 25?

Thanks for stopping by. Check out our website for our daily postings and be sure to tell your friends!


Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Recipe Monday – Cooking with salad dressing

As I’m sure you are aware by now, most of the food I cook is made from scratch. I am something of a “food snob” in that it is a rare day when I use a box mix to make dinner (or any meal for that matter).

That being said, I’ve found through trial and error (plenty of error, let me tell you!) that just about any oil-based salad dressing can be used as a substitute for oil when cooking. A salad dressing, such as ginger-sesame, adds great flavor to a stir fry and you’ll find that you don’t need to add more soy sauce or other sodium-riddled seasoning. It’s a win-win in the kitchen!

I grew up with a Sicilian mother,so I tend to use some type of viniagrette. I’ll be sharing one of those recipes with you today. I found this recipe at and have changed it to suit my family’s tastes. I encourage and expect you to do the same. I only use salad dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and will buy the “light” variety of whatever dressing I need when I can’t make it myself.

Today’s recipe is Chicken & Rice with Vegetables

What You Need

1 to 2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into strips *
3 cups cut up mixed vegetables (I use broccoli and carrots)
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 cups chicken broth or water
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
2 cups instant rice (brown or white)

*I use boneless skinless thighs, but breasts work too.

What You Do

Heat the tablespoon of dressing in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Add the vegetables and onions; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Stir in the broth or water and bring to a boil.

Stir in rice and 1/4 cup dressing; cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and chicken is cooked through. Serve.

That’s it! Quick, easy and delicious! Let me know what you think of this recipe and how you changed it.

I’m off now to take the kids mini-golfing. Today is the first true day of summer vacation for them, so we’re going to have a little fun. 🙂

Have a great week. I will talk with you again soon.

Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Recipe Monday – Trish’s Handmade Fabric Softener

As you can see from the title – I did not come up with this recipe all by myself.  I found this great forum thread on Etsy, by one of my friends giving a recipe for Handmade Fabric Softener.  I printed it out and have worked from there.  I can no longer find that forum thread.  I have, however, been using this recipe for well over a year, in my high-efficiency washing machine, with absolutely no problems.

What you will need:

1 gallon size jug with cap for mixing

1 cup white distilled vinegar

1 cup baking soda

3 cups water

1/2 to 1 tablespoon of fragrance or essential oil in the flavor of your choice.  This last one is totally optional.

What you do:

Pour the vinegar and 1 cup of the water in your gallon jug.  I use a cleaned and rinsed milk jug.  DO NOT use any bottle smaller than one gallon – you’ll see why in a minute.

Measure out your baking soda into a bowl, and mix well with one cup of water.  SLOWLY add 1/4 of the mixture to the vinegar in the mixing jug/bottle.  It will start fizzing and foaming like nuts.  This is why you MUST use a large gallon size bottle.  The first time I made it, I didn’t and I now have a clean ceiling in my kitchen to show for it.  🙂

Allow the fizzing to subside before SLOWLY adding the rest of the baking soda mix.  Add the last cup of water to the bottle and swirl to combine.  Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours (2 is good) with the cover off.

Add your fragrance/essential oil and put the cap on loosely.  Set aside where it won’t get bumped or spilled.

The next day, cover tightly and swirl it around.  If there is no more fizzing you are ready to go.

Shake bottle before each use, as the baking soda will settle between uses, and enjoy.  You can use this mixture in the fabric softener holder or a “Downy” ball.

As for the fragrance/essential oils you can buy them online or go to Wal-Mart and pick some up.  I like the “Crisp Linen” scent they have at Wal-Mart, personally, but any combination you like will work too.  I’ve also used lemon, ocean breeze, lavender and orange.

Enjoy!  I’m going on a field trip with my first-grader now.  Have a great day!  If you have the time, stop by our Etsy shop and heart a photo or three!  Thanks!


Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 8:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Recipe Monday – Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ok, I know you are thinking – LAUNDRY DETERGENT as a recipe?  What the heck?  Right?  I know, I know.  Really I do.  But you’d be amazed how inexpensive it is to make your own laundry detergent instead of buying brand name.  Got a high-efficiency washer?  So do I, and it’s perfectly safe to use in it.

What you will need:

1 bar bath soap, in your favorite scent

1 cup baking soda

1 cup Borax

1 cup Super Washing Soda

What to do:

Grate the bar of soap.  I use a metal box grater, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Mix the soap with the other ingredients.  Put in an airtight container – I use an old coffee can.  Done!

Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of detergent per load.

I have found the Borax and the Washing Soda at our local Super Wal-Mart, but you can also order it online from Ace Hardware.  If you have it shipped to the store in your area it’s free shipping.  I also buy the bar soap from Walgreen’s when their brand is 4 bars for $2.  Mix and match the scents to keep it interesting – or don’t.

You will have enough to make several batches of this.  Give it as gifts to friends and family.  In this economy – every bit helps.

Next week:  Make your own liquid Fabric Softener!  Save one of the gallon milk containers for this one!  Trust me.

I hope you are having a great Memorial Day!  God Bless all of our American Service Men and Women around the world.  We are truly thankful that you do what you do.


Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  

This week at L&W – 5/27/11

This has been a week of crazy weather, projects and their deadlines, lost motivation and iPods, and tears over a little boy I’ve never met. The days all blurred together, so be warned, these things that I’m writing about are in no particular order. I’m writing about them as I’m thinking about it. Even my outline for this week is all over the place – I should have realized it was going to be like that when the only pen I could find had metallic orange ink! 😀

Ok, let’s get started.

This weeks project focus was on the gifts I volunteered to create for our son’s Kindergarten class. His class has one teacher and an assistant.

For the teacher, we are creating an apron for her to wear during art. I purchased a plain canvas cooking apron and sewed on some pockets donated by the students. I had to sew the pockets on by hand, because my sewing machine decided to do this weird thing with the bobbin thread (it’s coming out in great loopy gobs like there is no tension down there). After the pockets were secured I brought the apron to school when the teacher was on her lunch hour and the assistant and I helped the kids put their handprints and names on it. Totally cute!

For her assistant, I purchased a terra-cotta pot and painted it. Then I stamped the phrase “Thank you for helping us grow” on it. I sent a 5×5 piece of card stock with a note home with the students on Wednesday asking them to trace their hand and write their name on the hand. Once I get all of them back, I am going to cut them out and attach them to green pipe cleaners. The hand print flowers will be arranged in the pot and secured by a half-ball of floral foam. Beautiful!

Other projects still on the board to do:
Reusable sandwich and snack bags
A wall-hanging quilt for my mother with all of her children and grandchildren on it
Soda can tab bracelets – save your tabs for me!

Photos on Etsy
This week was another re-list week. Here are three of my favorites from this week:

The Robin was taken in our backyard sitting on the electrified fence that surrounds the cow pasture, the prairie dog photo was taken at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and Pat took the photo of the horses while at work one day.

Mother Nature’s Mood Swings
While we here in Wisconsin didn’t have the scary weather that other parts of the country did, we did have some severe weather and dreary weather. For me at least, rainy days one after another cause a lack of motivation and a loss of inspiration. This means that dinners are ordinary and “Angry Birds” is the most opened app on my iPad. My prayers are with the people of Joplin, MO, and all the other areas hit with the full blast of Ma Nature’s power.

The Case of the Missing iPod
A couple of months ago, my husband Patrick gave our 7-year-old daughter an iPod. He found the iPod in the trash on his route. I’m thinking that the people on his garbage route actually leave this stuff for him to “find” but I can’t prove it. Anyway, she put it on to charge one day where I normally charge my iPad. This week she went looking for it. It wasn’t on the charger. She threw a fit accusing me of taking it off the charger and hiding it! She would not listen to reason and would not accept my plea of not guilty. I really didn’t know where her iPod was and had never seen it on the charger. She tore apart my desk and the surrounding area looking for it. Not there. When I suggested she look in her room, she said it wasn’t there. When I said clean up your room and maybe you’ll find it, I was told that she didn’t take it off the charger so it couldn’t be in her room. She found it (after 2 days of this) in her room in a box under her bed! Not even a sorry mom did I hear. Creepy kid. Her father took the iPod away for a week.

Gearing Up for:

Right now I’m gearing up for Memorial Day, summer gardening, and my first craft fair.

My first craft fair will be in September 2001 at the Holy Hill Art & Farm Market.  I am totally stoked to be a part of this.  If you live in Southeast Wisconsin, consider stopping by and saying hi.

I come from what some call a large family. I am the oldest of 5 kids. We all get together as often as we can, but holidays are always a cause for celebration. We are very close-knit and I am blessed to count my sister, my 3 brothers and their spouses as my friends as well as my family. When I was sick November 2010 through January 2011, I didn’t have to worry about my kids, housecleaning, getting to doctor appointments, cooking, laundry or anything. Everyone came together and each did a bit to help me and my family. My life was truly, truly blessed when I was given these wonderful people to grow up and old with. Since we now all live within 30 minutes from each other, I look forward to many impromptu cookouts and gatherings. My family rocks!

Baby Owen & The Children’s Miracle Network

Those of us who live near Milwaukee and have children are fortunate to have a great children’s hospital right in our backyard. The staff is outstanding. Our son was admitted to Children’s twice before he was 30 days old. He is now a rowdy 5-year-old, who loves to make people laugh. We were one of the lucky ones. There are so many families that have gone to that hospital and have not been so fortunate. One of those families is the Bissing Family. I re-blogged baby Owen’s story yesterday, and wanted to mention it again today. This is a story that really touched my soul. If I ever see Mel Bissing I am going to give her a great big teary hug! I can’t imagine all that she has been through in the last week. Please consider reading her blog posts, donating to the relief fund set up in Owen’s name, or donating to the Children’s Miracle Network. Owen will live on in the hearts of his family. My heart is in my throat as I type this.

Have a great weekend. Tell someone you love them, go visit a loved one’s  grave and tell them you miss them, plant a tree and dance in the rain!