Saturday Snapshot…. Weekend Cooking… A Little Investing In Me.


Hey all.  I meant to get this posted earlier but well… you know…  life and laundry and working on projects and OH where does the time go?  😉  I think (I think…) I mentioned here somewhere in my ramblings that I am in a season of investing in me.  I am trying to move forward with healthy habits….more activity in my life than the last year+, good friendships, good activities, and healthy eating.  I think I am making progress and thought I would give you a recap of this “Investing In Me”here for Saturday Snapshot along with a tasty recipe for Weekend Cooking.

Yes…. this post is a combo platter.


Yes.  That is this week.

Monday I participated in the first Game Night at one of my favorite venues, Prairie Bay

Tuesday was book club…. Classic night.... a little Fitzgerald set in the 20’s

Wednesday I got a hair cut bought new tennis shoes and headed to the gym and the elliptical

Thursday I went to the Prairie Bay 2nd Thursday community night

Friday I hit the gym and the Group Power class


And now for that recipe….  this is something I picked up from one of the Librarian’s and ooh this is so good.



Ok… here is something TASTY!

You need:
4-6 ears of corn
1/2 onion chopped
cherry tomatoes – yellow and red – cut in half
2 TBSP lemon juice
red pepper flakes
fresh basil
2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

With sharp knife remove the corn kernels from the shucked corn. Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add corn and onion to the skillet – shake and stir the pan for 3-5 minutes until browned. Gently add the chopped tomatoes and heat an additional 2-3 minutes until hot. Place in bowl and season with the pepper flakes and lemon juice and sprinkle the chopped basil on top. Season to taste.

**To mix it up – add an egg to the mix while cooking, or chicken or shrimp to make it more of a meal. Delicious!


That’s my week.  Hope yours was eventful in positive ways.  🙂  Tomorrow… I hope to share with you about a little event coming up I like to call… Books, Burgers, and Brews.  Stay tuned.  😉

Saturday Snapshot…. Putting In The Garden


Saturday.  My favorite day of the week.

Yesterday I finally went and picked up what I needed to make my raised bed garden. I had looked at the kits at Home Depot and for a small square kit the cost was $48.99.  I have been staring at this kit for months.  It was nothing more than wood that locked together.  Yesterday I decided I would build my own.  I went back to Home Depot and purchased 4 8 foot long treated boards for $3.96 each.  I bought clamps to nail the comers together (45 cents each)… my weed control sheets – and my plants.

I set it all up in the yard and while listening on audio to a little Oversees by Beatriz Williams I put together the frame in about 45 minutes.


Then…. I called Al and said “bring in the dirt”.  Some days it really pays to be married to an Excavator who also has a black dirt lot two properties down from our own home.  😉




I added some organic feed to the dirt and the guys helped spread it in the frame.  (FYI:  the guy tot he right is my son Brad.)


The cucumber frame, a gift from my friend Gail was the inspiration I needed to have a garden this year.  The frame is set up so the cucumber vines will grow upward into the frame.  Kind of excited to see that happen.  I planted lettuce n the center of the frame, and in the other space along the back side I have tomatoes, and bell peppers, string beans, a few strawberry plants and a basil plant.


Today I am thinking about setting up a second frame for squash.

So I can also add this post to Weekend Cooking.  Here is the recipe for my favorite fresh garden salsa.  Every time I make this people rave.

Fresh Garden Salsa

firm tomatoes – 4 to 6

an onion


jalapeno (optional)

3 tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper

Chop the tomatoes to desired texture of your salsa. I prefer it with chunky bits of vegetables.  Chop onion, and finely chop cilantro (s much as you like) and add to a bowl with tomato.   Chop in little bits of jalapeno if you wish.  Season with sugar, salt and pepper.  The sugar has been my secret addition, it seems to cut the sharpness a bit and adds a lot of flavor.  Serve with good chips.  Also delicious as a hamburger topper or on a grilled chicken breast.

You can see more about Saturday Snapshot here.

You can find great recipes for Weekend Cooking here.


Morning Meanderings… Going to the Benefit


Today, as I sit here with my COFFEE this morning, it is a quick moment of relaxation before I jump in the car to head to ST Paul.  Today is the ‘Be The Change You Want To Be” benefit for my son.

Bittersweet as you can imagine.

It is easy to get caught up in the to do’s.  There is a Silent Auction, inviting people, making signs for the event…

but it is never far from my mind why we are doing this.

Justin’s friends Branden and Heather are hosting this and I am so proud of them.  They are doing it to honor their friend, gather with memories, and raise money for Justin’s passion, the kids of Manuelito in Honduras.

My son had many passions.  He loved living and experiencing life to the fullest.  He loved his friends fiercely.  And he loved going to Honduras and spending time with these kids who had become friends to him. One of our last conversations two days before his accident was about Manuelito and the kids.  He had thought before leaving on this trip in 2015 that it would be his last.  He was no longer in College and felt it might be time to focus on his future.  Yes when he came back in March of 2015 he said,

“Mom, I just can’t give it up.  I cannot imagine not being a part of that mission.”

So here we are.  Honoring Justin’s wishes and loving him all rolled into one.   I can’t imagine not.

If you find interest in Justin’s passion and the kids of Manuelito.  You are welcome to give using this link, and in the comments put DeChantal Memorial.  My mother heart of course thanks you.

For todays Saturday snapshot, a couple pics of Justin in Honduras.




Thanks everyone.  I am off.

Saturday Snapshot…. In The Right Place At A Sad Time… Prince

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

On Thursday of this last week, a few friends and I had tickets to the Amy Schumer comedy show in Minneapolis Minnesota.   For myself, this was a big move as I have become a sort of hermit this past year, I can go out and do things but I like to come home afterwards and this was an overnight event.


Before I left town Thursday afternoon for the show a friend of mine had text me…

Prince died!

Having lived in Minnesota all of my life and growing up around Prince’s music it was a shocking message.  I started trying to do the math in my head… how much older was Prince than myself?  I could not recall if he was old, or had health issues, I honestly had not followed his career in probably a decade.

That afternoon I picked up my friend Amy and we drove the 2+ hours into Minneapolis.  We had a nice dinner before the comedy show and as everything was very close to our hotel, we walked to the event.  I did not realize as we were walking that we would be so close to the bar where Prince received his first big break, 1st Avenue.  While Farrah had mentioned that maybe after the comedy show we stop by that bar, I thought we would have to take a taxi there.

We went around a corner and this was the scene:


Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

I was amazed. It was around  8:15 pm and this was the crowds in the street in from of the First Avenue bar.  The venue we were going to was actually on the same block, putting these crowds right outside the venue we would be at.  First Avenue had received permission from the city to have an all night dance party for Prince.

We went into the show and enjoyed Amy Schumer’s humor.  We were not allowed to take any pictures at the event so unfortunately, you just have to take my word for it. I was there. 🙂  She hits a few hot button topics, which unfortunately caused two front row attendees to be removed from the show for  rude comments.  That – was something I had never seen before.

After the show, we stepped outside the venue into this:

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Helicopters were flying overhead filming the crowd, police and security were working to keep everything under control. We made an attempt to go into the bar, but there would be none of that.  The crowd as you can see was immense and I spoke to a few people leaving the masses and they said they had been waiting outside the bar for over two hours.  I made the suggestion that we all go back to the hotel and sleep until 4 and then come back then.  Of course, by the time that we went to the hotel and sat around talking until after 1:00 am….  4 am…. was not going to happen.  We were all exhausted and I thought what would I do at the bar at 4 am… I really just wanted to step into it and look around, I had never been in it.

Instead, we woke up at about 6:30 and Amy and I grabbed some coffee and walked down to First Avenue bar to see if we could see anything at the time of the morning.  Some of the signs at different venues had been changed…

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

  The bar was closed, there were about twenty people coming and going to stop and pay their respects at the memorial that had sprung up in the last 20 hours.

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

It was a bitter sweet experience.  It was a wonderful time hanging out with the girls catching up, talking, the show…. and even getting out of town and out of my own head for a night.  Seeing the Prince memorial and being among the crowds of people mourning his loss and celebrating his life was priceless.  It was a moment of history in the making and I was right there in it.  Once again a reminder of how fragile life is and how each moment should be lived out as much as possible with no regrets.

Thank you for the music, the memories, for your originality, for allowing Minnesota to be your home.  Sleep well sweet Prince. 


This is my post for Saturday Snapshot this week.

Morning Meanderings… Visiting My Book Room


Good morning.

Saturday’s have always been my favorite day of the week.  They are the official break from the work week and not thinking about work the next day.  This one will be fairly mellow and I am thankful for because as spring approaches, and I look at my agenda… Saturdays tend to fill up.

This past week I spent some time in the book room.  My friend Amy and I sorted books in it on Monday and on Monday evening I had a few friends over where we sat in and talked and had a glass of wine.

I believe that room carries all aspects of my personality from the antique claw foot table that we rescued out of a demolition home, to the variety of books and audio books on the shelves, cozy comfy chairs, pictures and sayings on the walls, and gifts from Justin (my recovered Wizard of OZ, my favorite wine glass with a JK Rowling quote, and my set of new covers Harry Potter books.)  The room… is me.

If you were to visit, this is where we would sit having coffee (or wine depending on the time and occasion).  We would talk books and life and dreams…. and wishes too.

For todays Saturday Snapshot I bring to you, my favorite room in my home…. the book room…. depending on the day it is called The Rabbit Room, The Reading Room, and my friends fondly call it the Womb Room….. someday I will find the perfect name for it… probably out of a book.

Come on in!






Happy Saturday all.  A friend in popping over this morning and we are driving to Crosslake MN for a meeting about camp this year.  After my return, Al and I will have our usual Saturday late afternoon get together where we will go and do something, then back home to dinner and maybe a movie.

My Advice…. Dream and go BIG


Over the past few weeks (ok months really) I have been chatting here or there about the idea of a Gatsby event in our home town. It stuck in my head a couple of years back when I heard that the Roseville Library in the Cities had such an event.  To quote Harry Potter just because I want to I thought the idea was brilliant.

The author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a Minnesota author.  Gatsby, set in the 20’s has a lot of appeal right now with swing dance lessons being popular, the clothing styles, and just the ability to dress up in fun and gorgeous costumes.

When our Friends board decided to give it a go our main draw was to attract a new group of people beyond those that come to our Wine and Words event.  We knew there would be some overlap of attendees to both events, but felt this might appeal to the 20’s to 40’s age group (which it did…. and then some!)

In a book I recently read… the question was presented…

Do you think it is better to fail at something worthwhile, or succeed at something meaningless?

I dreamed for Gatsby to be worthwhile.

From the start, I had a vision in mind of a jazz band, dancers, a photographer, awards, and 20’s style drinks to try.  It slowly came together.  The Brainerd High School jazz band said yes to using volunteer community hours to play for us.  My good friend and photographer Joey Halverson offered to be our event photographer, a local lady who knew my mom made our trophies and donated the printing which brought our cost way down, and the venue we used, Arrowwood Lodge was willing to work with us on providing a drink option called The Bee’s Knees and a Mary Pickford.

Our goal was 100 guests.  We closed out 2 days prior to the event at 191.  If we would have been able to keep selling tickets we would have been over 200.  Most amazingly, almost everyone of those people dressed up.  I would say close to 98%.  People really got into it.  But you don’t have to take my word for it…


PicMonkey Collage 1


PicMonkey Collage 2

PicMonkey Collage 3

PicMonkey Collage 4

PicMonkey Collage 5

Besides the great 20’s look, amazing photos, excellent jazz music, food, drinks, and dancing – the local newspaper also came and took a ton of pictures for the paper as well as made an amazing video of the event.  Not only did we attract a younger age group, we had an amazing diverse mix of ages which was an awesome bonus.  We would call this a wonderful success.

You can see all the pictures on our website page.  You can see the fun short video here.

I will add this to Saturday Snapshot this week…. a walk back in the 20’s that is what I have been up to.

Next up… Wine and Words.


Morning Meanderings… The Gatsby Connection


We did it.

Month s of planning, little details to put together, A WHOLE LOT OF amazing people stepping up and in to places from check in, to champagne and fascinator sales, to set up, to taking it all down…

Gatsby in Brainerd Minnesota was a HUGE SUCCESS.

Our goal for this event was 100 people.  I think for first year events that 100 people is enough to show there is an interest.  We closed up ticket sales at 191.  If we had not had to stop selling tickets a couple of days out, we would have easily cleared 200.

See, I am not the only one that likes to dress up. 😉

For today’s Saturday Snapshot, here are a few pictures from last nights Friends Of The Library Fund Raiser.  There are mostly from my phone so they are not awesome, but by next week I should have better pictures from our photographer to show.







My camera for the most part took blurry pics so I can not wait to see everyone elses!  For the full effect watch this great short video that our local paper took of the event.  I seen this today and it made me cry.  We did it. Oh my gosh, we did it.   Link to video


Today I have a board meeting in St. Cloud and then I am unplugging from much of the outside world for the next month.  We are so close to a year since Justin’s accident here and I need time just to be and work my way through that.  This Gatsby event was something he and I had talked about and I know if he could have been, he would have been here right beside cheering me on as he always did.  Perhaps, in a way, he was.




United For Libraries – Literary Landmarks



I am part of a committee that meets to place a Literary Landmark once a year somewhere in Minnesota.  Literary Landmarks are a part of ALA (American Library Association).  The purpose of Literary Landmarks is to recognize an author who is from the area.  The author needs to no longer be living for at least 5 years.  In past years Minnesota has recognized:

Jon Hassler

Sinclair Lewis

Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Tacy!)

Scott Fitzgerald  (Gatsby!)


Our committee started meeting last fall to discuss who our next author should be.  As the last couple of years had been in the Brainerd lakes area and in Ely, we felt it was time to come back toward the Twin Cities.  Once we have chosen our author, we need to find a place to put the plaque.  It is a beautiful large plaque and it can go indoors or outdoors; on the side of a building, in a library, in a park, a museum, wherever.  We then plan a ceremony around the dedication.

After narrowing down our list, we were excited to choose Gordon Parks as our Literary Landmark for 2016.

Gordon Parks was not only an author.  He was also a photographer and became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. In 1971, his book Shaft became a  hugely successful motion picture.  He had a deep commitment to social justice and died in 2006.

Yesterday, I drove to St. Paul Minnesota to meet not only with our committee, but we were also lucky enough to have two of Gordon’s relatives present as well.  Russell Balenger is Gordon’s nephew and Robin Hickman his grand niece.  It was so exciting to meet them and see that they both are involved in social justice themselves, carrying on in Gordon’s footsteps.

gordon parks, book journey, ALA< Literary landmark
L: Russel, Robin, Joe (from our committee)


gordon parks, literary landmark, book journey minnesota
L: Barbi and Isabel from our committee


I am enjoying being a part of this group. It is wonderful to be able to recognize authors who have made a difference.  I am submitting this post to Saturday Snapshots.

Morning Meanderings…. Training To Be A Hooker


Saturday!  Have I mentioned before it is my favorite day of the week?  Here this morning with COFFEE CUP on the front end of the weekend.  So much I like about that.

For this weeks Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share with you my experience this week of taking the steps to be a hooker.  Leather knee boots optional.


Oh wait – no no no. Not that kind of hooker.

This kind:


I have girls in my book club that are amazing crocheters, or hookers, as I am learning they are called.  Some of the items they have worn to book club (scarves, hats…) things they have made for Wine and Words or for our Christmas exchange (gorgeous blankets, throws…)  This hat is what I received at our last Christmas party:

Sheila DeChantal


Anyway…. I sooooo wanted to know how to crochet.  Last fall, I won a crochet starter kit at the Wine and Words auction.  I joked that I would not open that package unless I had a chance to learn, otherwise the gift basket was going back to be auctioned at this year’s event.  It was nice that on Thursday of this week I was able to open that basket.

PicMonkey CollageIn the basket was a wonderful assortment of yarn in beautiful colors.  There was also a book called My First Crochet Book, scissors, a set of crochet hooks with a holder, and some tags to put on my masterpieces (those I will save for later.  WAY later).

We gathered at Sharon’s house from our book club and she and Lori taught me the basics.  I was the only one in the group this time that was squeaky new to this.  I thought for sure I would have Mickey Mouse hands and not be able to do a think but I actually did ok when I made my first chain of 100 stitches.  (Note the concentration)


Our trial session was two hours long.  The goal was to make a cozy for a coffee cup as my first project but we (I) did not get that far.  By the time I left I had this:


A work in progress? Yes.  Or…. a completes yarn mustache which I believe are all the rage in Europe.  😉

The verdict:  I am willing to keep going. I hope I will learn to at least make scarves, maybe baby blankets.  On the bright side… it was a bucket list item I can scratch off – I am doing it.


How about that?

My Great Grandmother would be proud.

Linking this up to Saturday Snapshot where we share what is happening in our lives.  Check it out – it is kind of cool to see what everyone around the world is taking pictures of this week.


Saturday Snapshot and Weekend Cooking w/ The Bookies


Saturday morning.  Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week.  When I was younger it was the day of no school (and no school the next day to worry about!) and when I grew up (term used loosely) it was the day off of work, home with my kids, and no work or school the next day.  Now I still like Saturdays.  They have become the day that Al and I usually go out for a while in the late afternoon to a movie or for appetizers, or to some other adventure.  I like that we take the time to connect when even now with me at home, we still are busy running in different directions during the week.

This past Tuesday our book club met for the review of The Life We Bury.  There are many things I adore about our book club and the little extras we do really make me smile.  With the protagonist being from Austin Minnesota, the home of SPAM, we had some fun.  Here are a couple of recipes that you could use when you read the book, or just because you are fascinated with meat in a can like I am. 🙂  I am posting these recipes for weekend cooking.

SPAM Sliders, Book JourneySPLIDERS (SPAM Sliders)

You will need:

a package of Hawaiian rolls

a can of SPAM

a package of Swiss Cheese slices



a tasty mustard


Set over temp to 350 degrees.  Open up each Hawaiian roll and lightly butter. Slice SPAM into 1/4 inch slices and place one slice on each roll.  slice in half of fourths (depending on your cheese size) the Swiss cheese and place a slice on each roll on the spam.  Add a little slice of onion, optional.  Place all rolls in a 13 x 9 cake pan and place in oven until cheese is melted and sandwich is hot to the touch – 7 to 10 minutes.  Serve hot with the mustard or mayo.  Great for a movie night or any gathering.

I personally was surprised that I liked these.  I have SPAM memories as a kid and I think that was the last time I ate it.  SPAM today is not like SPAM was then, the jelly coating I remember around the meat that grossed me out is no longer there.  The sandwiches were actually tasty and if I had not known it was SPAM I don’t think I would have guessed.


SPAM, book journeyCheesy Baby Reds (as found on the SPAM website)


  • 1 12-ounce can SPAM® Classic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 12 ounces whipped pimento spread
  • 24 baby red potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In large skillet, in butter, heat the SPAM® Classic until lightly browned. Drain well.
  • Whip the pimento cheese spread in a blender until smooth. Place pimento cheese spread in a large bowl. Add the SPAM® Classic (reserve about 1/3 for garnish) and diced red bell pepper.
  • Thoroughly wash and clean the potatoes. Cut in half and scoop out the center of each with a spoon or Parisian scoop. Mix the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat the potato halves with the mixture and place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove from oven and fill center with the SPAMento™ cheese mixture. Garnish the filled potatoes with the reserves SPAM® Classic, chives and a dusting of cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 48.

These were so good and I would totally make these!


As for a little Saturday Snapshot, I thought I would add a picture of our dogs this past week. Bailey(the white one) is 18 years old.  Really, the miracle dog.  A couple of years ago he started having seizures  and then after a month they went away and we did not see him have another one until last month.  It is horrible to see, but remarkably he comes out of them and goes on like nothing happened.  The vet says he is not suffering in any way, he is not in pain and lives for his age a healthy lifestyle.  Sammy ( the black one) has just recently taken to hanging out with Bailey a bit more.  This was a cute picture of sleeping close together.  Almost like Sammy is protecting him or being supportive.

book journey, DeChantal