Friday, February 19, 2010

fat tuesday

Out of steam.
Worn Out.

I was so tired when I got home from work that I literally didn't get farther than the sofa - the last seven days (Bahamas, work, work, work, column due, waitressing shift the night before the party, intense cleaning, party, work the next day and bowling) tuckered me out.

Brother J.R. called to see if I wanted to do something Fat Tuesday-ish and I barely had the strength to text him back to count me out. After a nice four-hour nap in my work clothes and a flurry of text messages from a couple of friends, Novella picked me up for Yat's Fat Tuesday party.

I did nothing more than brush my teeth. Didn't change out of the work/nap/wrinkled clothes, didn't brush my hair, didn't put on earrings, didn't put on makeup. The only think I added to this fabulous ensemble was my big puffy down coat and Dansko shoes.  Because the coats adds a good ten pounds and is always a good indoor party look, and hey, clunky shoes just screams 'party!'

So who do you think got quoted in the Indianapolis Star's Talk of our Town column? Yep. Thanks to Cathy Kightlinger for making me sound good and for the photo credit. And double thanks to Novella for getting my bum off the sofa. J.R. - next time I say I'm not going out, don't believe me.

Read the full thing (and see my photo credit) by clicking here. I've copied the text below (and yes my name was in bold - hee hee). And there was a photo of my smiling face next to my quote in the paper copy.

by Cathy Kightlinger
If Yats owners Joe and Gina Vuskovich locked the doors of their College Avenue restaurant after hours one Fat Tuesday, the annual holiday of food and drink would still come and go.

But the pre-Lenten funfest wouldn't seem the same to the neighbors who live near 54th Street and College Avenue, as they are accustomed to a yearly after-hours Fat Tuesday party the couple host.

It's a free event that gets started when the New Orleans-inspired Yats closes its doors about 9 p.m. on Fat Tuesdays. Anyone who hears about it and shows up is treated to free food, drinks and music -- an event that makes Joe, who is from New Orleans, feel at home when his native land is celebrating Mardi Gras.

"Originally it was just a thank you to the neighborhood community for supporting us and embracing our concept," Gina said.

Now, though, the area's residents have come to expect the party.

"I can't think of a better neighborhood host than Joe Vuskovich," said area resident Nora Spitznogle. "Yats' Fat Tuesday celebration is the perfect time to soak in the goodness and generosity that is Joe and the neighborhood."

This year, jambalaya and hurricanes (New Orleans-style cocktails) were on the menu Tuesday, and Rusty Redenbacher, of the Mudkids, served as the event's DJ. Gina handed out Mardi Gras beads. And the party went on until the wee hours on Ash Wednesday.

"People love beads," Gina said. "They get a huge kick out of it."

Monday, February 15, 2010

saint valentine's day 2010

Nora with a giant box of chocolates 

I did a terrible job of taking photos at the party. For one thing the party was too crowded for my fancy camera - It was hard to stand five feet from anyone, there was no room!

One of my New Year's resolutions is to start asking for help. I love to help people with stuff around their house so I don't know why I feel so weird asking others. I started last month by having a friend help me move a giant bookcase that took me weeks to move the first time by myself. It took Kipp and me exactly two minutes. And he repaired the part I'd broken off in my struggle the first time.

My dear sister, Beth and her lovely husband, Ron came over on Saturday to help with the preparation. Ron had the thankless task of chipping away at the ice and shoveling my driveway and sidewalks. Beth came with an armful of white chocolate covered pretzels and candied pecans she'd made. We washed windows, cleaned the porch, vacuumed and decorated. We had a blast running errands in the neighborhood - picking up heart-shaped Philly-style pretzels and beer. We stopped at Mom's for candles and the dozens of heart-shaped cookies she made and her famous fudge.

The party was a blast - 75 people signed the guest book, so I'm guessing there were about 100 people again this year. I just love seeing everyone connect (and when you're elbow-to-elbow, there is not much choice). It was a fun mix of friends and family and Second Helpings volunteers. 

Will someone please remind me to take the day after the party off next year? 

Here are the recaps from 2008 and 2009.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

saint valentine's day eve

I can never get organized enough to send out a Christmas letter so I shoot for Saint Valentine's Day. 
Since I never got around to doing an end of the year blog wrap up, here is a copy of the letter enclosed with the invitation to the Saint Valentine's celebration. 

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

I can’t believe that another year has flown by. I think this will be the twenty-eighth annual celebration. The parties have morphed from the early days of two cases beer of beer and a plate of heart-shaped cookies to fancy food and better booze. Mom’s heart-shaped sugar cookies are still on the menu though!

I’m in my fifth year at Second Helpings (speaking of time flying!). We rescue surplus food from the community and prepare and deliver 2900 meals every single day at no cost to seventy other social service agencies. To complete the circle we have a culinary job training program for adults. My role as the director of operations really is perfect for me – it combines my education, experience and passion. I can’t believe how much I love it!

I’m also lucky enough to be the Saturday night waitress (and cook) at the iconic Red Key Tavern. The Red Key is just three blocks from my house, is owned by the delightfully curmudgeonly ninety one-year old Russel Settle. Russ has owned the tavern for fifty-eight years and I’m honored to work in the historic bar – and I love working in the neighborhood. I also work one Sunday a month at the wonderful Marigold clothing store. Marigold celebrated their twentieth anniversary this year with a move in to a beautiful new building in Broad Ripple (next to Big Hat Books and the Broad Ripple Brew Pub). Except for the years I worked in Philadelphia, I’ve been on the Marigold schedule the whole time. And if you’ve seen me at all in the last twenty years you know that I’m wearing at least one piece of Marigold clothing every day!

In my spare time I am the music columnist for the Broad Ripple Gazette and write concert previews and feature articles for NUVO, Indianapolis’ weekly entertainment and social justice paper. I’ve started a regular series on radio music deejays. I got to review all sixty bands along the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon route this year – and walk all 13.1 miles while doing it. I also got my dream assignment this summer and wrote a feature titled Nora’s Indiana State Fair Top Ten (it was heavy on the barns and animals and 4-H) for NUVO and attended all seventeen days of the fair and wrote about my experiences – and got to ride in the tractor parade three times!

I also started writing for a national magazine, Ghettoblaster. Don’t let the name scare you – it’s a quirky mix of features on music and films and CD reviews. You can pick up a copy in your independent record store or at Barnes and Noble.

2009 was another wonderful year for travel. Dad treated us to plane tickets to Germany in June and we had a grand time. Mom, Dad, sister Beth and her husband Ron, and sister Ann and her husband Tim and I spent over a week traveling by planes, trains and automobiles from Munich to Fulda in the heart of Germany to visit the Zwergel’s, long-time family friends.

We took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria where we saw the gorgeous city and skipped down the Do-Re-Mi steps featured in the Sound of Music - in pouring rain. The next day trip to the Dakau Concentration Camp was a sobering experience, but one I’m glad we took.

The upper right photo on the invitation was snapped outside of our charming hotel in Baden Baden. The town is known for their mineral waters and baths. I got over my prudishness on our second day there and took advantage of the famous 130 year-old Friedrichsbad, a nude Roman-style bath with seventeen stages of soaking and scrubbing and steaming. You guessed it – I knew the woman next to me. She’d been a customer at the coffeehouse. I felt like I knew her even better after the two-hour circuit.

The photo of Sankt Valentin was taken in a beautiful church at the top of the town of Fulda. I was humbled by the beautiful art and history in Germany. The Zwergels were fabulous hosts. I especially loved staying in their family residence in the oldest building in Fulda. I spent a month there in the summer of 1978 and it brought back a lot fun memories of staying with my Aunt Rita and Uncle Eberhard and my young cousins. I was thrilled to find a photograph that I’d snapped that summer, framed and on display.

I visited Austin, Texas in October to cover the Austin City Limits Festival again this year for NUVO. The music was terrific and I had a photo pass. Standing ten feet from the B-52s was a surreal experience and the whole festival was a blast.

Brother J.R. and his wife, Anna generously let me tag along on their Thanksgiving vacation to Sanibel, FL. I got to share a room with my two favorite people in the world – niece Molly and nephew John David. Giggling and soaking in sunshine was a beautiful way to spend the holiday.

Taking the time to recap the year once again reminds me what an amazing life I lead. Thanks for being part of it!

My music blog:
My blog:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

back from the bahamas

I had a lovely time in the Bahamas. I loved doing absolutely nothing but eating, laughing, drinking and reading in the sun.

I was so lazy that I actually had to talk myself into taking a walk on the beach and sticking my toes in the water. Who can be bothered with such things when the pool is right there?

The hotel was great. Tom traded us rooms so we had a suite. Much better suited for four women. Our rooms had a great view of the ocean and three separate balconies. I meant to sleep on the balcony one night but there were no extra blankets. The overnight temperatures were in the mid-sixties. Which is warmer than my bedroom at home.   Our palace included two bedrooms, three beds, three televisions and three bathrooms. Not that we did much in the room besides sleep and shower.

Despite the on-air speculation we were all pretty damn boring although I was giving some lessons on flirting, I'm not sure that they took. I promise to keep practicing.

Gambling is legal in the Bahamas so of course I had to bet on every silly thing I could - who would score the first touchdown, would the winning teams final score be even or odd, what color underwear would Peyton Manning wear....of course, our Colts lost. And I was disappointed, but it's hard to be mad at New Orleans and Drew Brees is a Purdue graduate. Watching the game with the whole group was fun.

At half-time the crew took photos with all of the trip winners and the rest of us. I bought a point and shoot camera with some of my trip money so I could hand it to anyone and get a decent photo. Most photos of me taken with my fancy camera show me pointing at the lens mouthing, 'no, push that button.'

I learned that not everyone can 'point and shoot.'

Here is our group photo - the three of us with the comedians and the B and T crew. I'm the one holding the foam finger.

We stopped for lunch at Compass Point on the way to the airport. Here is a shot of the whole group - I'm in the back row, second from the right.

You can see more photos of the trip here. And on my facebook page here.

I got back to reality last night when Dad picked me up from the airport. Snow, snow and more snow.

I did have to laugh when I got in the truck. Remember Dad's homemade console in the new truck? He added on to it! The console now has a fancy addition.

The holes in the top were too awkward for him to reach his diet Pepsi in the new truck so he built a new holder and attached it to the front.

It's good to be home

Friday, February 05, 2010


Um, hi. I’m posting this from the Bahamas. I’ve been so busy with working – twelve days in a row, three of them working two jobs in the same day. And writing – five pieces and six CD reviews, about 4000 works total in the last week. Read the first in my new series on radio deejays here. I’m proud of myself that I got to work my favorite tractor into my bio – that I’ve not had time to even think about the trip.

I’m here as the guest of my friend that works on this syndicated radio show. It is a charter trip so the plane was full of us yahoos -- employees and guests of the station and folks that won the trip

If you listen to the show, a lot of the talk this morning centered around the three guests of KL and the sleeping arrangements and how wild we all must be. Ha! I hope I can live up to their party girl expectations, but first things first. Little sleep + beer on the plane = nap time.

The show will be broadcasting live from the Bahamas on Monday and Tuesday. WFBQ 94.7 if you’re in the Indianapolis area, syndicated throughout the rest of the country or streamed here.