Monday, November 30, 2009

Get Ready - Here it Comes

OK - now I need your help.  I am going to start a category tomorrow entitled "Collective Wisdom"  I plan on asking a question twice a month or so, that I'd love to get your thoughts and/or advice for.

I hope this will become a place we can share our wisdom and ideas about a variety of almost 50 issues.

So, I hope you'll comment - if you have questions on how to do it, just send me an email.

Now - I just have to narrow down all those questions running around in my head.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Old Friend

We had a wonderful, relaxing weekend at the cabin after Thanksgiving.  I spent about 4 hours on Saturday reading the newest Spenser novel - The Professional, by Robert Parker.  I realized that I have been reading the Spenser novels since 1973 when I read the Godwolf Manuscript.

My parents owned a bookstore when I was young, and I remember racing my father to the new Spenser novels as soon as they came into the store.  It feels like finding an old friend when I read these books.  

They are not great literature, and are certainly fast reads, but they bring back great memories of that bookstore - The Village Bookshop in Rye, NY and all those days of hard work and great books.  I will continue to read them as soon as they come out and enjoy going back in time for a few hours.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fall Travel Weekend

We are heading to beautiful Spider lake today where we have no have no wireless internet, cell phone or TV service. - A wonderful rest.  I'll post on Sunday night.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, I am especially thankful for the many ways my life is blessed.  Family near and far, great friends, gainful employment and a warm, safe place to live.  I will strive to remember those blessings every day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The "Joy" of Thanksgiving Dinner

I love to cook and tomorrow (Thanksgiving) is the like the world series for cooks.  Of course, the menu is pretty fixed, but I can still put my personal spin on the classic dishes - like greek yogurt in the mashed potatoes and grapefruit and pomegranates in the salad.

I never, however, can remember how long to cook the turkey.  Somehow, I overcook it or find that's it raw when I go to carve it - a little embarrassing in front of the in-laws!

This is where the old favorite - The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer comes in.  My mother gave me a copy of the Joy of Cooking that looks like the one in the picture years ago.  It's not a first edition, but it's pretty close and it has become the go to resource for all those basic cooking questions like how long do you cook the turkey.

The Joy of Cooking is a great resource for anyone.  I give it to people who love to cook and people who never cook unless they have to. 

I have a little obsession with cookbooks and have way too many on my shelves, but if I had to give up all but one, this would be the one I'd keep.  Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up my library of cookbooks lightly, but I'm more relaxed as a cook knowing I have the Joy of Cooking ready and able to answer my last minute questions, that somehow I think I should know.

The answer for turkey, by the way is: at a 325 oven, for an unstuffed turkey, you want to look at 10 - 12 minutes a pound, but the real key is testing with a thermometer - 175 to 180 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh.

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Theater & A Deal

I feel blessed to live in a city (or cities as we say here) that has such wonderful arts.  We are lucky enough to have the new Guthrie theater in downtown Minneapolis as well as many other wonderful theaters around town.

I got an email last week advertising half-price tickets to the Guthrie's new show - The Faith Healer for a few nights this week, so Bill and I are going to go tonight.  and I love that the theater in the twin cities is not only outstanding, but typically affordable too. Of course the current economy has impacted people's ability to take advantage of the theater, but I am happy when I see the theaters making it more accessible.

So, I'll let you know how we like the show and I encourage you to search out a deal on something you love to do over this holiday season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

Well, here we are at the beginning of all those holiday meals, temptations and treats. I think I've heard that as  American's we gain something like 5 pounds, on average, during the holiday season.  I know I've been guilty of overindulging and I'd like to change that pattern this year.

I will stay with Weight Watchers, which I know will help, but I am also going to try a few things this season aimed specifically at monitoring myself over these next 6 weeks:

I am going to read the book The End of Overeating, by Dr. David Kessler (thank you Joan for the recommendation).

I am going to cook and bring healthy versions of the holiday food I'm in charge of.  I won't go crazy, but I will err on the side of fresh food and good choices.

I will stop and smell the roses as well as the pie.  I want to be sure to enjoy the friends and family as much as the food.

I will try to exercise consistently along the way - again, I know I won't get there everyday, but I do have time to do my regular classes.

And..I will give myself a break - I think if I just relax a bit about the whole thing, it will be fine.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tide me Over

I said somewhere along the line that Sunday was going to be my contemplative day.  We do go to often go to church on Sunday.  We belong to a church that we love - St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.  I find being a part of that community feeds my soul in many ways.  

I realized today, though, that one of the ways I spend time in thought or contemplation is when I'm doing laundry.  I actually like doing laundry - not in a weird Betty Crocker, my house has to be perfect all the time way (anyone who knows me can attest to that) but in a doing laundry helps me think kind of way. I enjoy the routine of separating, washing, drying and especially folding.  

I know that when I feel overwhelmed by the number of things in my brain, or how much I need to do for work, or how many tasks I need to get finished, I can do a couple of loads of laundry and feel like I've accomplished something.  It, of course, has the added benefit of my kids being able to have clean clothes for school, but there is something about doing work with my hands while I'm trying to figure out a problem or work through an idea that helps.  

OK - I might be a little on the wacky side for this one, but I think I'll keep at it until I can figure out a better way to contemplate.  

Friday, November 20, 2009


I love Fridays.  I'm not sure why, but I've always loved Fridays. When I was in school, it was freedom for at least part of the weekend.  As an adult, it's looking forward to an quieter schedule for a couple of days (usually)

I think though, my favorite thing about Fridays is how much the kids enjoy it.  It's a reprieve from homework for at least one night, they bring their friends over and seem like "just kids" for a while.

In our crazy, busy world, it's nice to be able to enjoy each other and relax a bit before the weekend events kick in.

I know that we will sometimes have stuff on Friday nights, but for today - I'm just enjoying it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Take Care

I've been interested to see the new recommendations on mammograms in the news this week.  I'm not sure I agree with them (based on my vast medical experience, of course).  But I do see them as a reminder that we, women of a certain age, need to take charge of our health.  

I know the new mammogram guidelines are aimed at younger women, but it brought up for me the number of conversations I've had over the years with friends, and myself sometimes, about how busy we are, how we have too much going on to schedule that mammogram or other preventative health measure.  It almost seems like a badge of honor not to pursue the care.  Somehow we are too tough, or practical or we don't want to seem whiny.

As women, or maybe just in my case, I think we are more focused on our kids, partner or other family member getting the preventive healthcare they need and it's easy to procrastinate ours.  Somehow it's more fun to talk about doing it than actually doing it.

I think it's time to take action - just schedule the mammogram, blood test or whatever we need to take care of ourselves and know that in taking care of ourselves, we are taking care of those we love.

I know it can be easier said than done, but I'm hoping it makes sense - Any thoughts or ideas on what's worked for you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Favorite Things - Greek Yogurt

I love greek yogurt.  It is truly one of my favorite things and I eat it almost everyday.  I discovered greek yogurt a few years ago when I was making tzatziki sauce (a greek speciality made with yogurt, cucumber & garlic). I found the yogurt rich, creamy and incredibly tasty - even without sugar or added flavors.

Since then, I've incorporated it into my daily, dairy needs.  I love it plain, with granola or with fruit.  I add it to mashed potatoes, salad dressings and sauces that call for sour cream or regular yogurt.  I have also found some flavored small greek yogurts, that I enjoy as a snack.  One of the amazing advantages of this yogurt, is that is has a ton of protein.  A 5 ounce serving has upwards of 10 grams of protein, so if you are trying to eat more protein, or balance your carbs with protein, this is a great way to do it.

My favorite greek yogurt is from Trader Joe's.  They have full fat, 2% (my pick) and non-fat.  Their price is also the best from what I've seen.  I also like the Fage brand and the Oikos brand.  They can be pricier, but worth the splurge in my opinion.

As the old commerical used to say "try it you'll like it"

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Love a Class

I spent the weekend in Chicago taking a class on the Enneagram at Loyola University.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend.

I got to spend time with Sarah which is always great as we don't get to see each other very often.

I also really enjoyed the class.  The Enneagram is a personality type assessment tool that I use in my coaching practice.  I think it's an incredibly useful tool. I have found it helpful both personally and with clients to build self-insight, and therefore better relationships at work and and home.  The class this weekend was focused on using the Enneagram in dealing with conflict, again, I think useful for everyone.

I also realized this weekend, that partially , I just enjoy taking the class (which if you are familiar with the Enneagram, fits nicely with my type - 5).  I like to continually learn about a variety of topics, I enjoy being away from my office and focused on something I want to know more about.

So, I'll continue to look for occasional classes to boost my knowledge, and I would love to chat more about the Enneagram with anyone who's interested.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Kind of Town

I'm off to Chicago today for a workshop on the Enneagram (a personality type assessment tool I use in my practice) at Loyola University on Saturday & Sunday.  I will stay with my sister, Sarah, which will be great.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, and will post about my trip when I get back on Sunday night if I don't get a chance over the weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Making my Point

I almost can't believe I'm saying this out loud, but I joined Weight Watchers again last night.  Now, I'm an experienced Weight Watcher - I can count points in my sleep.  I think the problem has been that I should have counted more and eaten less - but today is a new day - right?

I re-joined because it has worked for me in the past, and I hope if I focus, it can work for me again.  I also went back because I finally found a great group.  The Wednesday night Weight Watchers group at the Midtown YWCA in Minneapolis is an eclectic, supportive, successful group that I enjoy being a part of.  The leader, Diane, is funny and real - not one of those annoying, super skinny, leaders who make me want to run screaming in another direction.

I also know that I have gone down this road before, with less than sustained success, so I'm hoping that by writing it down and bearing my soul a bit here, I might be motivated to continue.  I will keep a realistic attitude and try to be kind to myself in the process.  I also promise not to bore you with the details, but will update periodically on my progress.

Any other Weight Watchers out there with experiences, tips or ideas to share - feel free to weigh in!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming to Fruition

It's sometimes amazing how things happen.  A week or so ago, I wrote about wanting to get clarity and action around volunteering this year.  That same week in the bulletin at St. Joan of Arc, was an ad for a member of the commissary team for their new initiative Mobile Loaves & Fishes.  

I jumped at the opportunity.  MLF is a non-profit organization based in Austin, TX with the mission to serve the homeless and working poor in the community.  St. Joan will introduce the ministry in Minnesota with a truck that will arrive from Austin next week.

My role will be to work with another volunteer managing the kitchen and food service portion of the truck.  It fits perfectly with my passion around homelessness and affordable housing and, of course, my love for food.  The truck will provide meals and/or dry goods for people in Minneapolis neighborhoods - more on the logistics as we get closer to launch.

I'm thrilled to be in on the beginning of this ministry, and look forward to updating you on the progress as we go forward. Please feel free to share any experiences or ideas if you have done this kind of work - we are open to suggestion!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Favorite Things - A Truly Lovely Day

I hit the jackpot today, and enjoyed a day full of my favorite things.  

First, I drove to Red Wing, MN - a small river city about an hour Southeast of St. Paul.  I love to drive, especially when I'm by myself and have time to think.  About 15 minutes out of the city, the landscape begins to sprawl - lovely fall cornfields and beautiful farms all the way to Red Wing - a great opportunity to center.

Next, I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop on performance management to a group of non-profit leaders and staff.  I love to share knowledge these wise, passionate people focused on making our world a better place.

Finally, I had dinner with my family and some good friends, Jim & Mary McHugh, who are moving to Denver later this week.  We had a terrific, gluten free, meal at the Chianti Grill in Roseville.  It was fun for all of us to catch up before Jim and Mary head off to Colorado.

I know tomorrow will be a busy day less likely to be filled with my favorite things, so I'm glad to take a minute to appreciate today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Open for Suggestion - Teenage Boys

This is another on-going category for this blog - I hope to get some thoughts and ideas on a number of topics on this journey to 50.  I welcome opinions and promise to, indeed, be open to suggestion when I ask, and even when I don't.

Certainly an everyday role for me in this journey, at least for 9 more years, is that of a mother to teenage boys.  I love being a mother, and like many of you, truly enjoy both of my sons with the occasional exception.  I don't pretend to understand how the teenage mind works here in the 21st Century, and I certainly have some questions as I go along - so here goes.

The most recent quandary has to do with my older son, Jack.  Jack is 15 and a sophomore in high school.  He is a great kid.  He has Bill's social skills and my sense of humor and lots of his own unique qualities.  

What he has not seemed to inherit or pick up along the way, are good study skills.  He is a pretty good student, but he's less than motivated to do anything beyond the daily homework (which is plenty) and therefore, isn't very prepared for tests and we all know where that goes.

So Bill and I are talking to him (I'm sure it seems endless and tedious to him), yelling at him, sometimes, and probably missing something fundamental about how we can really help him.  Jack has talked to his teachers and we will go to meet with teachers/administrators in school to discuss it there too.

I am not a helicopter parent, and I don't want to become one, but I do want to figure out how to help him help himself.  Maybe I'm too competitive, and I should just leave him alone (truly not in my nature) or maybe there is another way to approach it that would be more effective. I'm not expecting high school to be without angst, but I'd love to get to a truce on this issue if we can.

I know I'm opening myself up here, but if you have experience with this or suggestions of how else to approach it - I'd love to hear them.  I'm all in favor of collective wisdom.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gorgeous Travel Day

We are heading to the cabin today so I'll try to post tomorrow night.  I hope to have pictures as we are going to see if we can get the boys Christmas picture done tomorrow - it is a beautiful weekend here in MN/WI

Friday, November 6, 2009

Create some Creativity

One, last, (I think) goal for this year is to focus a bit on my creative side.  I don't think of myself as very creative - I know we all probably have some artistic part of ourselves, but mine is not very strong.

I am the queen of practicality (perhaps more on this in a later post).  I get stuff done, I am the voice of reason and real life solutions. Even my writing has a pretty practical bent.  Now I'm not dissing those qualities - Everyone can appreciate a good reasonable point of view and I'm great in a crisis. I also know that my sensible side can cause me to be a little one dimensional sometimes.  So this seems like the right year explore my creative side.

I have two quasi-creative outlets.  I can cook and I can sing.  I really enjoy cooking, but like most of us, the majority of my cooking is done for the weeknight get the dinner on the table kind of meals.  I need to branch out and experiment a little so, I'd like to practice soups this winter. I'm going to try to make one new soup or stew a week - so please send me your great soup recipes.

Last night, I re-joined the St. Joan of Arc choir.  This is the perfect outlet for me.  I love to sing, but I'm not crazy about singing by myself, except in the shower.  The SJA choir sings wonderful music, and we get to sing with some really accomplished artists throughout the year, so that is even more fun.

So - that's the creative vibe today.  Please feel free to let me know how you have discovered your creative side.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Favorite Things - Stormsister Spatique

OK, it's time for another installment of my favorite things.  This time I wanted to give a shout out to one of my new favorite places - Stormsister Spatique - a wonderful boutique of skincare, haircare and many other fun products.

I admit to having a little obsession with skincare products.  I have really dry skin, and have gone through my share of Clinque, Estee Lauder, Keihls, Mary Kay etc... products trying to find one that works for my skin and doesn't give me a rash. I'm fairly easily taken in by a new cream or potion, and end up with many thrown away.

Well, luckily for me (and my wallet), that all changed when I walked into the Stormsister Spatique a year or so ago, while I was waiting for my breakfast at the Capital View Cafe on St. Paul's West Side (I think, I always get the West Side and West St. Paul mixed up, so forgive me if I have it wrong)

Becky Sturm, the owner of Stormsister graciously helped me find (and take home samples of!) a skin care line that has worked wonderfully for my dry skin.  I was impressed with her knowledge and pleased that she took the time to figure out what I needed - a simple, straightforward skin care regime that didn't cost a fortune or have so many steps I couldn't remember them.

I love to support small businesses and it makes me happy to see good owners doing well.  So, I pass this along as one of my favorite things, and as always, I'd love to hear what your favorites are.  

Let's share our secret "finds."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day - IPhoto

This may sound crazy in the 21st Century, but today I learned how to post and email pictures on IPhoto from my real camera. So, for example, here is Charlie in his groovy Halloween costume on Saturday.  

I know, I know - I can hear my kids saying it now - Mom EVERYONE already knows how to do this, but I am thrilled to figure it out. You will, no doubt, get sick of the pictures I'll be posting throughout the year.  I also love that I can now post and email the really good pictures Bill and Jack take, rather than only the average pictures I take with my phone.

I have to say that IPhoto & my Mac make it incredibly easy to do this and although I should have done this years ago, I'm glad I learned this today. I look forward to learning more. Any cool things on IPhoto I should know about?

What have you learned today?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One a Day - A Vitamin for Work

I think I Mentioned a week or so ago, that one of the goals for this journey is to continue to build and develop my business; particularly consulting with non profits and teaching.

My field is Human Resources and I've been out on my own for a few years now.  I have great clients, an although I love doing the work, I know I am not as comfortable marketing myself and generating new work.

So I had a simple idea I'm going to try.  I am going to do one thing every day that is focused on building my business.  I will keep track of those things and, if I can, connect them to new clients, business and/or directions throughout the year.

I know is sounds simple, but I tend to be successful generating ideas to pursue, and less successful actually pursuing them.  This seems manageable and like this blog, doing it daily will keep me accountable.

I would love to hear other ideas about how people have successfully built and developed their small businesses or practices - I am always open to suggestion.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Day to Remember

Today is All Souls Day.  I wasn't really sure what All Souls Day was, except a day to remember the dead.  So, of course I Googled it. I was right, All Souls Day is, in fact, a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have died. (There was a bunch of stuff in there about purgatory too, but I'm pretty sure I don't have to be concerned about that.)  

Like all of us on this journey through middle age, many wonderful people who have touched my life have passed away over the years. I remember all of them, but there are two people in particular I'd like to write about today.

My father, Frank Edmonston Kilpatrick, died on December 31, 1992 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.  He was 68 years old. Dad was a smart, funny, kind man who I miss more and more as my kids get older.  I know he would have loved getting to know them.  I can see little bits of him in both Jack & Charlie - in athletics, quick sense of humor and love of airplanes.

My brother, Andrew Edmonston Kilpatrick, died unexpectedly, on December 9, 1992.  He was 36 years old.  As I mentioned in my first post, Andy struggled with the demons of addiction for most of his short life.  I have a better understanding, as I get older, of how difficult that must have been for him.  I will always remember his sharp wit and sense of fun, and I also see some of him in my boys - particularly his competitive game playing. (Let's just say that Jeopardy should just never be played by anyone with Kilpatrick blood)

So as I said, I remember both of them every day, but it's nice to remember them a bit more today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Candy Miracle

I just realized this morning, that I made it through yesterday without eating one piece of candy.  Now this is something of a miracle for me.  I think it may be the first Halloween since I could eat solid food, that I have done that.

I know this sounds crazy, but in the past Halloween has been something of a free for all day for me.  One fun size snickers (whose idea of fun is that by the way?) leads to two butterfingers, which leads to a oh well, the day is lost anyway attitude which leads to many trips through the boys halloween bags. I usually end up with a total sugar buzz and generally icky feeling about myself.

I'm not promising that I will never eat another piece of candy.  In fact, I'm trying to embrace the idea of all things in moderation, but I feel good about not going down the candy garden path yesterday.