Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's in a Name?

So I was reading about that little singer/actress Miley Cyrus who legally changed her name guessed it Miley Cyrus. Apparently her name was Destiny Hope Cyrus (heaven help her) and is now legally Miley Ray Cyrus after her nickname (Miley from Smiley) and Ray (her country singer daddy's middle name). That got me to thinking, if I could change my name would I?
Legally I've had a few names, the one I was born with, then the first husband's last name, then back to my birth name, and now my married name (which I love, very Irish).
But if I could choose a name, would I go the James Bond route (Pussy Galore and Christmas Jones come to mind) or the J.K Rowling Harry Potter route (Poppy Pomfrey and Dedalus Diggle are 2 of my favorites)?
Can you imagine being saddled with one of the more unusual names celebrities have bestowed on their offspring lately? Pilot Inspecktor, Dragon, Indiana, Tiger? Geez....
I love my name and am grateful to my parents with blessing me with such a lyrical, historical and meaningful name, I even like it in it's original Gaelic format Sionainn.
For fun browsing silly names, check out:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I was feeling kinda puny yesterday after a long weekend of late night activities so my son and I made my favorite soup. With the awful Chicago winter kicking in and out of gear lately, we've been on a soup kick. Since I'm not much of a cook I enjoy one pot meals. Last week was Split Pea soup (vegetarian style) but for this post I am just posting my favorite:
Tuna, Tomato Bread Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced and diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 6 oz cans Italian tuna in olive oil, slightly drained
2 cups chicken stock (I use organic low sodium vegetable stock)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 loaf of good Italian bread, torn or chopped
Parsley and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to top
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium high. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork. Add the stock, tomato sauce and the diced tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat so the soup simmers for 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then remove from heat. Break up the bread pieces and add to the soup to thicken it. Remove the bay leaf. Serve the soup in bowls and top with parsley and grated cheese(sour cream is also a great topper)
Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

This amazing video uses 100 movies and 100 quotes to count down from 100 to 1. How many movies can you guess? I knew more than half. Have fun!

For the list of movies, click here:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Marks

I process more than a hundred books a day and have run across all sorts of things people have used as bookmarks and left behind.
Some of the items I've found:
airline ticket stubs
business cards
to-do lists
newspaper articles
This morning in a health book was a laminated card titled Morning Mental Warm-Up with a list of thought provoking reminders.

I will win. Why? I'll tell you why--because I have faith, courage and enthusiasm.
Today, I'll meet the right people in the right place at the right time for the betterment of all.
I see opportunity in every challenge.
I'm terrific at remembering names.
When I fail, I look at what I did right, not at what I did wrong.
I have clearly defined goals.
I never take advice from anyone more messed up than I am.
I never let a negative thought enter my head.
I am a winner, a contributor, an achiever.
I believe in me.

This may be the most useful and interesting thing I have found in a book yet.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Momma Mia

So my mom left today after a lovely visit and I miss her already. She flew in for a nice long girls weekend and we had the best time just being together. My mother is the coolest person I know, she's a mom, wife, sister, Nana, world traveler, retired teacher, certified diver, social group president and so happy and fulfilled in her life she inspires everyone who knows her. Many women have such complicated relationships with their moms, I'm glad ours is so effortless. In honor of her I have compiled a list of some of my favorite "mom related" books, websites and movies.
Little Women by Louise May Alcott (the classic mother daughter book)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (a book about women)

Mother Daughter Book Club


Meet Me In St. Louis
This Judy Garland film is one of my Mom's favorites, a story about family, sisters and her hometown of St. Louis

Forrest Gump
When Mama Gump tells Forrest he is no different than anyone else we believe her. Life is like a box of chocolates...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Favorite songs

"My song", the one song that I think defines me is "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel. I've probably heard it, played it and sung it thousands of times and it still moves me. I've wondered it the melody, the lyrics, his voice?
There are other songs I just can't hear enough of including:
"Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult
"Love & Anger" by Kate Bush
"Limelight" by Rush
"Sister Golden Hair" by America
"In a Big Country" by Big Country
"One Tree Hill" by U2
"Games People Play" by The Alan Parsons Project
"Another White Dash" by Butterfly Boucher
"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell
"Golden Brown" by The Stranglers
"Missing" by Everything But The Girl
"Shut Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol
"I Miss You" by Blink-182

Some songs I just wait for my favorite lyrics like:
"I know what makes me comfortable
And I know what makes me tick
And when I need to get my way
I know how to pour it on thick" by LeAnn Rimes in "What I cannot change"
"Thank you for waiting through my lovers
Knowing we could come home to each other" by Paula Cole in "I believe in love"
Why do you love your favorite song? Lyrics, artist, melody?
Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Local Theater

Since becoming involved in the arts in high school and majoring in theater in college, I have loved live productions. I enjoyed acting classes throughout my 20's but now I prefer to watch from the audience and living in a cultural mecca like Chicago is fantastic. My friend Jessica is often my date for local theater nights and in the past few years we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of local productions. We have enjoyed the Chicago Symphony, Broadway shows, the Ballet and lately some great improv, (of which Chicago is famous) Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Review.
2008 appears to have some great lineups at both the professional and non professional theaters. This month I am seeing:
Aqui Estoy at the Albany Park Theater Project
February I will see:
Shining City at the Goodman
March will bring a production of Little Women starring my dear friend Rana as Jo.
Support your local theaters and enjoy the passion of the writers, the actors and the crew.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Save the.........

So I was watching this episode of Heroes and one of the characters had to go on the run from the mob. She had a chance to go home, tell her kid to pack what he needed and they were going on a little "vacation". This got me to thinking....if I had 1 chance to pack before I disappeared to cheap hotels and diner food....what would I take with me? Oh and it all needs to fit in my convertible, but not in the trunk because that is where the bodies are. (Watch season 1, episode 2). Would you pack for practicality or sentimentally?

Here is what I would throw in the duffle bag:
1. Photographs, my favorites, 1 from my nightstand and my son's baby book
2. My laptop because it's the source of everything
3. The good jewelry
4. Clean underwear, cotton socks, comfy t-shirts, leather coat and my favorite pair of jeans
5. The makeup/toiletries bag, it's hard to try and replace a favorite lipstick

Plenty of room left for the kid (his bag full of Xbox 360 games)and the dog.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Green Marketplace

There is an excellent window display at my library this month which showcases a variety of products from bowls to bags, from clothes to glassware and all of it is made from recycled and/or green materials. The display was done by people at the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, their website can be found at The website is a great sourch of information on reducing, reusing and recycling. For information on products, check out the ECO-Friendly Marketplace at
My favorites include:
Bamboosa (natural clothing made with bamboo fibers)
Burts Bees (Great body products)
Bags With Style (Fun bags for all occasions)
Earth Bath (Natural products for pets)
Eco Tours (Eco holiday ideas)
Also check out the For The Home tab for links and resources on making your home and the furnishings and products in it safe for your family.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Best of 2007

Almost a week into 2008 I thought I would look back on my Best of 2007. This list won't be a CNN style look at politics and scandal, just the best of the year in my life.
1. Lasik Eye Surgery (my eyesight is now better than 20/20, I practically have x-ray vision)
2. Travel (the opportunity and freedom to explore the world is a privilege, the more I travel, the more I realize that. My first blog was my travel blog which you can check out here
3. Amy Winehouse (Her Back to Black album is my favorite release of the year, I can't get enough of her sound. Aside from her trainwreck life being played out in the England rags, she is truly the most gifted singer I've heard since Eva Cassidy. Listen to Tears Dry on Their Own, fantastic song)
4. Yoko and John: A New York Love Story, Allan Tannenbaum's new book with pictures of their last days together. Haunting, sad, erotic and timeless.
5. Gardening (when my husband and I bought our house in 2006 we inherited an overgrown English garden and not a blade of grass. The previous owners were professional gardeners and had covered every inch of our large lot with annuals, perennials and fruit and vegetable beds. We've transformed our yard into an oasis and I've enjoyed growing organic including peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, chives, St. John's wort, oregano, parsley, basil, curry leaves and lots of raspberries)
6. The continuing ease of eating vegetarian (the days of asking for all my meals made without animal products is over, almost everywhere I go there is a vegetarian option on the menu)
7. The trend to Go Green (it's gone mainstream, thank goodness)
8. Soldiers Serving Their Country, war affects us all (
9. YouTube (things I've never seen before and things I'm happy to see again)
10. Dane Cook (nobody makes me laugh like Dane Cook, crude, hysterical, and brutally honest. Date at the Movies is my favorite, but here is his Kool Aid clip)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Must Read New Book

Ever wonder what your last meal would be? Friends and I have often tossed our suggestions around, especially when under the influence of fantastic food.
For recipes and just plain fun reading, check out:
My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals
portraits, interviews and recipes
by Melanie Dunea with an introduction by Anthony Bourdain
The author asks each chef the following questions:
What would be your last meal on earth?
What would be the setting for the meal?
What would you drink with your meal?
Would there be music?
Who would be your dining companions?
Who would prepare the meal?
The answers range for the hilarious to the poignant and all will make you yearn for the perfect individual meal. The accompanying pictures are gorgeous and set in locations around the world.
My personal idea for my last meal includes a beach, my swimsuit, a comfy white cotton t-shirt, a fresh suntan, champagne, seafood, hot crusty bread, crisp green apples with carmel dipping sauce and being surrounded by loved ones with no worries of tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

As we drove back to the lake house from skiing last night, we passed remote cabins, trailers and farmhouses, windows ablaze with lights, families and friends home for New Years Eve. At the ski resort, there were parties, a teen dance and much drinking and celebrating but after a long day of skiing and snowboarding, we couldn't wait to hit the hot tub and just soak our tired muscles. The skiing is excellent, I had forgotten how much I love it and am enjoying it even more with my husband who is really the best skier I have ever seen. My son is enjoying snowboarding and later today some snowmobiling. My husband and I will do some snowboarding with him today and tomorrow.
Wherever you spent New Years Eve last night, whether at home or a party, I hope you spent it as contently.