Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween - what's not to love?  Beautiful fall weather (this year at least), kids in costumes and candy - what's better than that?  

I do, however, have a little problem with Halloween candy in the house.  So this year, I decided to give out microwave popcorn instead of candy in an effort to reduce the amount of candy around.  Jack is too old to Trick or Treat, so I'm down to one bag of candy showing up and, much of it will go to the food shelf in a week or two - don't tell Charlie.

I'm proud of myself this year because we actually have pumpkins to carve and Charlie has his costume all set - I am usually the mother who is looking through the closets this afternoon for something to make a costume out of.  Maybe I'm getting more organized in my 50th year?

I look forward to seeing the costumes and enjoying the kids in the neighborhood tonight - I wish you all a Happy Halloween too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I take it all back

Ok - all that pontificating about kettlebell yesterday - It's killing me today - I am sore from head to toe, my quads are on fire and it hurts to do almost anything. 

I purposely chose the high chairs at Cafe Latte (one of my favorite St. Paul restaurants) at lunch with my friends today so I wouldn't have to sit all the way down.  I may have to eat dinner standing up.

Now to be fair, Dawn (maybe feared leader is a better label) said we might be sore today - I don't think I realized how much and of course, she said it at the end of the class.

So my advice is if you are working out regularly - DO NOT STOP!!  It may not be worth the pain to begin again.  I will stick it out and hope to do a cycling class tomorrow (that is if I can climb on the bike).  I truly hope by next week's Kettlebell class, I can still lift that thing.

Stay tuned - I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One in a Row

OK, I'm back in the saddle - the exercise saddle that is. After I did the triathlon in August, I thought I'd take a week off - after all I deserved it after that huge accomplishment right? Well, maybe you know how that goes, a week turned into two, which somehow turned into 8. I guess there was something to that freshman science class - isn't inertia that says something (or apparently someone) at rest tends to stay at rest?

I decided today was the day to get back on the horse, so to speak. I signed up for a Kettlebell class at the YWCA and went tonight.

It was a great class. A kettlebell is sort of like a cannonball with a handle. Dawn, our fearless leader, took us through a variety of exercises and it was clear that the kettlebell class will be both a good cardio & strength workout - I wasn't even the oldest person in the class - not too shabby.

It feels good to get started again, and although I promise not to bore you with endless detail of my exercise routine, I will let you know about my progress.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Favorite Things - New Kitchen Gadget

This may fall into the category of "I'm easily entertained" as well, but I found a fabulous new kitchen gadget in a little store in Sausilito last weekend. I'm guessing it would also be easy to find in a kitchen store or online as well.

It's called the "Tirra" milk frother or mousseur a lait (It always sounds better in French doesn't it)? and I have to say it's best $12.95 I've spent in years. 

The small, light battery operated frother is made by Trudeau and comes in a triangular box that weighs only a few ounces and, fortunately, doesn't seem to pose a threat going through security in the airport.  
The Tirra makes warm milk froth up wonderfully nice and light for a perfect cappuccino or latte in my own little kitchen.  

A few years ago, I purchased a Bialetti, old fashioned, on the stove, espresso maker a and love it but I could never get the milk to taste right without a steamer.  With this little frother, though, the drink tastes just as good as the $4.00 drinks at Starbucks.

For those of you who know me well, this is truly a breakthrough.  I am guilty of spending way too much money at coffee stores around town to feed my caffeine habit.  Now, I don't want to get crazy, and say I'll never go to the coffee store, but I do think it will be fun to track how much money I save over the course of the year with my new gadget.  I'll let you know next year and will plan to donate those savings to the food shelf.

I'd love to know what your favorite kitchen gadgets are.  Any new finds or fun items you'd like to share?  As always, please feel free to let me know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In Her Service

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'd like to pursue a few goals as I go through this journey.  I've read here and there that if we write down our goals, we are more likely to achieve them. I think I'm adding to that, by writing them down for all to see.  I'll keep tabs on how I'm doing in this blog as I work toward the goals and I'll update my progress periodically, as well as ask for advice along the way.

This goal is about service.  I want to find and actively participate in a great volunteer activity - I'd actually like find or create an opportunity I feel passionate about and commit my time, talent and treasure.

I have always had a passion for issues around homelessness and affordable housing.  Simply put; I think every person deserves a warm, dry, safe place to call home. Many too many people in our own back yards don't have that luxury.  I have volunteered in many shelters, food kitchens etc.. , but I can't honestly say that I have put in the time or energy I know I'm capable of to try to make even a small difference.

So, this is the year.  I will spend time actively looking for that opportunity. It may be more than one; I'd like to do some hands on work as well as either some legislative or strategic work in the area of homelessness and/or affordable housing.  Ideally, I'll be well into the project by the time this blog ends.

I think it is always easy to have good intentions, but they have not consistently turned into action for me.  I believe it's time to make the time.

I'd love any thoughts or suggestions along the way - I know some people who work in this arena in the Twin Cities, but I'm always open to more.

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Francisco Treat

We had a fabulous weekend in San Francisco. It was fun to get away just the two of us.

We enjoyed an incredible dinner on Saturday night at Chou Chou restaurant with our friends Tom & Mary Alice. Nick, the chef, knows Tom & Mary Alice well, so we were treated to an amazing evening with many kisses on the cheek - very French!

We loved the evening, the food was spectacular, and catching up with old friends, even better.

On Sunday, we exercised our midwestern right to be tourists in San Francisco. We took a cable car ride and ate breakfast at one of San Francisco's oldest places - Sears Fine Food, in Union Square. We then hit Ghiradelli Square for a few chocolate treats to bring home.

Bill and I both remarked on what friendly service we had all over the city; from our "local" Starbucks we visited each morning to the bike rental salesperson, to the waiters at the restaurants - a truly wonderful trip.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In The Airport

I'm in the San Francisco Airport on my way home.  It's been a wonderful trip.  I'll blog more about it tomorrow and post some new pictures.

I am always happy to get home - especially to see Jack & Charlie

I'll try to use the rest of today in contemplation (it's Sunday, after all). I plan to have another goal or two and some additional categories before October is through.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beautiful San Francisco

We are having a wonderful time in San Francisco.  We ate at a fabulous french restaurant called Cafe Claude last night - great food, excellent service and smooth jazz. 

Today we rented bikes and rode across the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito.  The weather couldn't have been nicer and it was a great way to see the city and spend the day.

Tonight we are joining our friends Tom and Mary Alice for dinner.  I am looking forward to catching up as I haven't seen them in years.

I'll try to post again tomorrow from the airport on my way back to chilly MN.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Rainy Travel Day

I'm am off to San Francisco for the weekend with Bill.  I love San Francisco and, of course, I love Bill, so it will be great to get away.  I am looking forward to seeing the city, walking a lot, eating terrific food, and just relaxing.  We'll also get to have dinner with our friends Tom & Mary Alice on Saturday night, which will be marvelous.

At the moment, I'm in the "what am I going to wear" mode which always makes me a little anxious.  This is where those extra pounds enter stage left.  I'm sure I'll figure it out, after trying on yet a few more options.  Ultimately, I have to just bring the clothes I feel best in and know It's going to be a wonderful trip.

The boys are staying with our wonderful neighbors, Mary & Bob. They will have a great time, and now that I think I've got that who has what activity after school, what time is that soccer game tomorrow?, whose house do you think you're going to? stuff figured out, I feel better. 

I plan to blog from San Francisco and will post some fabulous IPhone pictures.

If anyone has good SF recommendations, please feel free to let me know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Maiden of Multiple Hats

I have a couple more goals that I'll share over the coming weeks. I don't want to get crazy, but I do want to be able to track a few goals over the course of the year.

This goal is business related. I am an HR Consultant, a teacher, a coach and now a writer. In my consulting practice (KilKenney Consulting,LLC), I work primarily with small organizations, many of which are nonprofit. I act as an HR Generalist for these clients and provide a variety of services from hiring & firing, to writing HR policies, to designing HR programs such as performance management, orientation and employee development. I also work with directors and managers as a coach throughout the process. I love this work, and want to continue to build my client base particularly in the nonprofit sector.

I sometimes teach HR in the Master's of Nonprofit Management Program at Hamline University, and although I don't have a class this semester, I love teaching. My goal is to teach more - I find it fun and challenging and a great way to stay current.

I have realized this month, that I'm also a writer. I enjoy writing this blog everyday and I am learning how to get my thoughts and feelings into words. I hope to expand my writing to other areas of my work/life as I go forward.

So, you can see, I am the maiden of multiple hats. I'd like to focus and/or combine these hats a little more effectively over the next year. I want to create a more streamlined message for my practice that somehow combines these interests and experiences.

I think many of us on this journey live a version of the multiple hats. We love the work we do, we love the variety, but sometimes pursuing that variety leads to distraction. I'm comfortable wearing the hats, I just need them to fit together a little better.

Any other Maidens want to share their successes?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Food and Cooking - Don't Mess with My Ina

OK - yet another new category for my journey - Food & Cooking. I love to cook - it is really the only creative outlet I use on a regular basis, except now, writing this blog. I would like to share my favorite recipes, ideas, websites and sources, and of course, I want to hear what yours are too.

To begin the list, I am a little obsessed with Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. Not in a weird stalkerish way, but in the I can see myself in her, wouldn't it be fun to do that, kind of way. In fact, I fancy myself the Gluten Free Barefoot Contessa.

I am enamored with almost everything about her - I have all her cookbooks, and use them regularly. I think her recipes are beautiful, easy and they taste great. I have found that when I make her recipes, they work and are easy to fool around with to get the result I want for any given meal. Contrary to the local joke - you don't really need to use a pound of butter in every dish. Yesterday, my nephew Emmett and I made a version of her Granola from the first cookbook, called interestingly enough, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. The granola received rave reviews all around.

I watch the Barefoot Contessa Show on the Food Network when I can and enjoy watching her cook and actually eat her food. I hate those chefs that look like they never eat a bite. She is a obviously a talented chef, but she also makes it seem easy and accessible to us amateurs.

I'd love to meet her one day, In fact, I probably have met her, she just doesn't remember me (OK that does sound a little stalkerish). when I was in high school in Rye, NY, I visited the Hamptons with friends and I'm sure I ate at the original Barefoot Contessa deli in East Hampton.

I never go see famous people whether it's at a book signing or a meet and greet, but I think I will step outside my box in this 50th year and if she comes to Minneapolis on her next book tour, I'll get up early and be first in line. That is if someone doesn't forward her this blog first and she decides to give me a call.

Do share your food & cooking favorites; recipes, chefs, websites etc ... It's fun to learn from each other.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day - Champ or Chomp?

Another new category I will use throughout this year is "You Learn Something New Everyday".  My father used to say that, and although as a teenager, I didn't think he knew ANYTHING, I have to say that I'm beginning to believe it.  

I love to learn new things; from completely useless facts to important and useful knowledge.  So I will embrace this category and actively try to learn something new every day.  Now with yesterday's post about being a member of the "Right" family, I won't be able to use my knowledge as often, but it never hurts to have it.

So on to the knowledge.  I learned this weekend from my friend Brad, that the saying was originally "Champing at the Bit" (meaning impatience or frustration when delayed), not "Chomping at the Bit"  as we hear more often.  Who knew? I have to admit that I have been using "Chomp" for 49+ years.  The word Champ means to chew noisily.

So me being me, I looked it up online to see if I could figure out how it evolved. According to Wiktionary - Champ was the original use.  Chomp was introduced later and is apparently acceptable as well.  

So, today, I share a little known fact (thank you Brad) that I will plan to use a few times in the coming weeks.  Going forward, I will share more learnings, some small and hopefully some large.  It will be fun to keep track of how many things I learn and see if my father was right! 

What have you learned today?

Monday, October 19, 2009


I really do encourage and appreciate your comments on this blog as I go along.  As I've mentioned, I hope this will become a community of people helping each other through the journey.

I have had several inquiries from people who wanted to post a comment, but couldn't make it work.  Here is one way that will work, so please feel free to add your two cents to the blog.

I think the easiest way to be able to post a comment here, or any other blog for that matter, is to have a Google account.  Getting a Google account is fast, easy and free (and they wont' send you spam).  Just log into Google - go to the top right and click on create an account now - it will only take a minute or two.

Then when you want to post a comment, write your note and then click on the "select profile" drop down menu and choose Google Account.  I don't have any connection with Google, but it was the easiest account I found when I was looking.

Please feel free to email me comments as well and/or post them on Facebook - I love the feedback.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm a Member of the Right

The "Right" Family, that is.  We just returned from a terrific weekend at Spider Lake with our Friend Brad.  I realized, not for the first time, during the weekend that all four of us in the KilKenney family like to be right.  Jack calls us the "exacto" family.  I don't think I truly understood that until I stopped and listened to how many times we corrected each other over inane facts this weekend.  Do you really have to skip a turn in Scrabble if you get all vowels and you put your tiles back?  Does Cousin Jan work FOR the MLS or WITH the MLS?  Is it a Shirley Temple or a Roy Rogers? and on and on.....

I'm not sure how it all got started. Are we just a competitive group?  Does being right make us feel that much better?  Do we all need more attention?  I honestly don't know the answer, but I do know it needs to stop because it gives me a headache.

So as a part of this self-insight journey to my 50th birthday, I guess I need to admit that as the matriarch of the "Right" family,  I have the power to make, at least my participation, stop.  That, of course, means I need to start letting things go, and not feel the need to be right (at least all the time).  I have to admit, that doesn't come naturally, so I feel some work coming on.  I am going to try to catch myself before I correct unimportant facts and let the conversation flow. I'll let you know how it goes in the coming months.  At the very least, it will be a good exercise in restraint.

Does this register for anyone else? Again, in my quest for self actualization, I'd love to hear any stories, tips or ideas.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Favorite Things - Spider Lake

I will begin categorizing these posts as I go forward to make it easier to follow along. Today, I am beginning today I am beginning a regular category called "My Favorite Things" I will post thoughts every so often of some of my favorites - foods, places, people, gadgets, recipes, products etc. I hope you will add your favorites to the list so we can share the ideas.

I have to start today with my favorite place in the world. Spider Lake, Wisconsin. We are lucky enough to have a cabin on Spider Lake and I am truly at peace when I spend time here. I love being here anytime - Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring. I love it for 24 hours or a longer vacation. We all slow down here, and I think even the boys fight less at the Lake. It's a great place to read, write, study, cook, eat, walk, run and just think.

Again, I feel blessed to have this place, and one of the things it has taught me is that I need, on a regular basis, to find a place to stop, think and reflect. I want to get better at that in my daily life. We are all trying to keep everything in our lives moving forward - work, family, and tons of outside interests and challenges. I think it is important in that balance to figure how to not lose ourselves in the process. It's a work in progress, and I'd love to hear what works for you.

As I mentioned, the cabin is a great place to think and one of the things I will be thinking about this weekend is this blog. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, but I really want to use it to build a community where those of us who traveling this mid-life journey can learn from each other. I will think about and expand my list of topics in the coming posts, but please feel free to add any ideas you have.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Rainy Travel Day

I am heading to the cabin today with Jack & Charlie after school conferences. We don't have much internet access there, but I will plan to post tomorrow and Sunday, at least and promise to have pictures to share.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Maggie's Zines

Ok, true confessions time - I love magazines. I actually think I might have a little problem with magazines. I enjoy the web as much as the next person. I'm spilling my guts on this blog right? But there is something about a magazine that completely takes me in. I love the pictures - especially in cooking magazines. I love that I can find help to solve almost any problem in a 2-page article, and I love that I can read a magazine while watching a movie or television show.

I was really disappointed to hear that Gourmet Magazine is going out of circulation. I know I probably sound old, but it seems like the end of an era. I get my recipes from Epicurious much of the time, but nothing beats seeing pictures of the food in print. I'm also one of those people who keeps old copies of cooking magazines just in case I might need a recipe a couple of years later. Of course, I'm not so good at finding the recipe when I need it, so I'm often back to the web to search.

I plan to do my part (in moderation, of course) to support the circulation of my favorite magazines and I hope I can continue to indulge this little obsession for years to come.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Try More Tri's

My second goal for this year, in keeping with the health theme of yesterday, is to do at least 4 Triathlons. I did my first Triathlon - the YWCA Women's Triathlon, in August of this year. It was an amazing experience. I highly recommend it to anyone doing a triathlon, especially for the first time. It was truly inspirational to be passed on the bike portion (and I was passed by almost everyone) and see that many of the women were in their 50's, 60's and beyond.

I spent many hours prior to the event talking myself out of it. I didn't start that 12 week training program until about 8 weeks out, I had a slow bike, I could drown, It might rain etc... I knew it would be hard, and it was, but what I didn't realize, was how much fun it would be.

Now lest you think I am a dedicated triathlete, I promptly took about 2 months off of training after completing the race in August. Shades of my post yesterday, but now I'm ready to get back in the game.

I got a fabulous new bike for my birthday/anniversary from Bill & the boys, so I running out of excuses. I will continue to do some spinning, swimming & running over the winter so I can be ready to get back on the road for Spring. I plan to choose one triathlon a month for June - September of 2010. I do hope that putting these goals in writing for all to see will help me accomplish them.

Because sometimes I like to read about things more than actually do them (this will be the subject of a few posts to come, no doubt), I found a great book called the Slow, Fat, Triathlete by Jayne Williams. It's a smart, funny read for anyone thinking about entering this wacky sport.

I hope that actually putting these goals in writing for all to see will help me accomplish them. I am trying to keep them reasonable and I pray that it will be fun to look back at the end of the year to see how I've done.

Again - please feel free to share your experiences here - what's worked for you to stick to a training program? What goals are you working toward as you take your journey?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Great Diet Dilemma

One of the first goals I have for this journey is to be truly comfortable in my own skin by the time I turn 50. Like many women my age, my weight has crept up over time due to any number of things - thyroid, hormones, peri-menopause and of course eating too much and exercising too little - go figure!

Over the years, I have tracked my food, counted points, lowered carbs, and even eaten lecithin and kelp (remember that one?) I've been on diets from South Beach to Flat Belly, from Scarsdale to Pritikin and on and on. I'm really good at starting diets, but not so good at sticking to them.

Somehow, I feel, that If I'm not "on" a program, I can't make progress, and of course it's easy to blame the lack of progress on the program - kind of a viscious circle. So I think I need to change the way I'm approaching this whole thing.

As I said, my goal is to feel good about myself. I want to stop worrying about those 20 pounds and either figure out a way to take them off or shut up about it already.

So I'm going to be on my own program - the Maggie Plan. I'll work on eating well (I have no excuse given the fabulous farmer's markets I talked about on Saturday), exercise - (we belong to a wonderful YWCA), and lastly, give myself a break. I know I also need to be grateful that I have this healthy, albeit, not tiny body and take advantage of what it can do.

I promise not to harp on this topic over the year, but I will update my progress occasionally, and please feel free to lend me some insight as I go through this - all advice and support is welcomed.

I'll share more of my goals for the year tomorrow - One day at a time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Contemplation

Today is a typical Sunday at our house - a little sleep, some homework, some cooking and two freezing baseball games for Charlie. I will think of Sundays as my contemplation days in this blog - today I will be thinking about my goals for this "50th" year - what do I want to have happen in this coming year that will make my getting to 50 feel great.

I'll elaborate tomorrow - but if you have any wisdom, be sure to share.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Politics & Religion on a Saturday Morning (sort of)

Good Morning-

I said I would talk about things I love and things I hate so here goes. I absolutely LOVE the farmers market. It gives me such pleasure to visit the St. Paul Farmer's almost every Saturday Morning. I try to buy most of the produce and meat that our family eats from one of the fabulous vendors at the Market. I'm not great at it yet, but I'm trying to get better. It makes me happy every time I go - honestly, it's a religious experience for me.

I saw a movie earlier this year called Fresh a terrific documentary about supporting community growers that I would recommend to anyone. The movie really made an impact on me and I realized how easy it is for one person to make a small difference - the double bonus, of course, it we all eat better.

I know I am lucky to live in a city with such great farmer's markets - I'm partial to St. Paul, but the Minneapolis markets is terrific too. I also love the Midtown Market, on Lake Street in Minneapolis - great produce and meat on Saturday mornings. I love the meat from Chase Brook Natural Farm - wonderful chicken, beef and pork from a local farm.

In general, I've found that although it's a little more work to get there, the food is better and less expensive than the grocery store, particularly since I'm less tempted to buy a bunch of stuff I don't need.

I'd love to hear if you have any great ideas or recommendations on what you like about eating locally. Please share any websites and/or locations that you've found to be helpful in this journey.

Ok - I promise my pictures will get better, but I'm excited that I not only learned how to post pictures, but web links too - I'm fairly easily entertained!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Journey Officially Begins

Well - Today's the day. I am officially beginning this blog - the journey to my 50th birthday, on October 3, 2010. I intended to start it last week on my 49th birthday, but used that post, instead for a tribute to my friend Paul and my brother Andy.

So what is this all about, you ask? I remember my mother telling me when I turned 8, that I was actually entering my 9th year. So as I was pondering the reality of turning 50 next year, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to put in writing the ups, downs, and everything in between of this year rather than setting a goal to "do" something big when I turn 50.

I'd love to have readers, followers and contributers along the way. I want to share this journey and learn from others how to successfully navigate being a "woman of a certain age."

I plan to laugh a lot, and I know I'll cry some too. I hope to look back after a year, even if I'm the only one who reads this journal, and be a little stronger, know myself a little better, and ideally feel great about turning 50.

My goal is to post something every day and although I don't know exactly where it will go - I hope to discuss things that are happening in and around my life that might be of interest to others. I see topics ranging from health and weight to business. From parenting teenagers to learning a new skill, from politics to religion, from the safe to the controversial. I'll talk about things I love, and things I hate - but always with respect, and never with intent to hurt anyone.

I'll learn as I go - I'll start with figuring out how to post pictures and links, I like small manageable steps, and make adjustments as necessary throughout the year.

So please join me if you like - pass it along to someone you think might enjoy it. I;m looking forward to a fun, if occasionally bumpy, ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

May the Road Rise to Meet You, Gentlemen

I have been thinking over the last few weeks about how I would begin this blog - the journey to my 50th birthday. I thought I'd take a little time to talk about my life, throw out some ideas about this mid-life year and invite people to join me.

That all changed on Friday - when I got a call with sad, sad news. Bill's cousin and my sweet friend, Paul Kenney, 42 had died unexpectedly. The call immediately brought me back to one I received in December of 1992 that my brother, Andy Kilpatrick, 36 had also died unexpectedly.

Paul and Andy, though they never knew each other, had incredibly similar lives - both were smart, sweet, funny and had more personality and charisma than they knew what to do with. Both also fought the demons of addiction that ultimately took their lives. Having loved them both, I waiver between a sadness that makes it hard to breathe, and frankly being a little pissed off. And then I remember, that I will never be able to understand how hard it must be to fight that battle, and I'm back to just being sad.

I am glad that they are not in pain anymore, and I take some comfort in thinking about them in a better place, meeting each other, sharing stories and laughing in that infectious way that made everyone in the room smile.

Rest in Peace, Paul & Andy.

My prayers are with everyone who loves you.