Wednesday, October 31, 2012

all hallows eve

My favorite costume of the evening

I've felt disconnect from a long-time friend. Nothing major happened, but she moved a few miles away and I started a job with more regular hours. Then more time passed and it started feeling awkward.

We keep in touch through facebook and an occasional text or e-mail. I've been meaning to stop by her house like the good old days. But I was afraid that I'd be dropping in at a bad time.

What better time to ring the door bell then Halloween when people are expecting visitors? Sweetie joined me and we had a great visit with Kassie's family. It was wonderful to catch up and rekindle the friendship.

If I was a kid I'd mark their house for trick-or-treating next year. Kassie gives out the giant candy bars!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

not good

It's not looking good for my work laptop. Luckily it is only a few months old and under warranty.

So now I figure that I'll only be about eight days behind in answering e-mails.

I'll bring my MacBook to work tomorrow, just in case.

Monday, October 29, 2012

robots in church

Robot Girl ring was a gift from Annie 

I was exhausted after the long day of traveling and waitressing Saturday Night. I had time to grab a quick four hours of sleep before it was time for church Sunday morning.

I have to admit that I did minimal preparation before I walked out the door, including grabbing the jewelry I'd worn the day before on the way out the door.

I have the honor of being an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist for my parish.  While distributing Holy Communion this week I realized that I was holding reverently presenting the Holy Communion and offering the Body of Christ to parishioners with a robot ring on my finger.

God loves robots too, right?

Sunday, October 28, 2012


A good time was had by all. The hayride/costume contest was a great mix of Dad's Second Helpings volunteer friends, family, neighbors, and Sweetie's family.

The weather was just right for bundling up, a bonfire, and roasting weenies.

I swear there is no better sound than hearing kiddos giggle as they are bouncing around in the back of a wagon.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

click your heels

Phoenix Airport, Southwest terminal 
I guess there is no place like home, but sometimes you want to slow the process down a little bit - and not by having your flight delayed by two hours. Luckily I got a text alert before Annie dropped me off so we were able to goof around a bit more. We peeked in on the yoga class that Tim teaches at a local park and photographed some fun murals and signs downtown.

This sign is for a pest control company. I need to download the photos from my camera, these are the cell phone versions.

Rooster on the side of a bar.

While I loved the bonus time with Annie, it was a long damn day. I went straight from the Indianapolis airport to my Red Key waitressing/cooking shift. Luckily it was busy enough to keep me from falling asleep.

Friday, October 26, 2012

foreign state fairs and snickerdoodles

Me as Martha Midway, the Arizona State Fair mascot 
I couldn't believe my luck. The Arizona State Fair was happening in Phoenix while I was in town!

My conference ended after lunch so Annie and I spent the afternoon running errands, baking cookies, and taking a necessary nap.

I don't want to say that I was disappointed, because I have a special place in my heart for State Fairs and the states that still have them. But there's no place like home, really.

The open class culinary depart consisted of three lonely cases tucked in the corner of the commercial building. The other open class division had more entries. Like Indiana quilts were popular. There were other interesting entries that you don't see in Indiana- gemstones and Native American crafts.

The 4-H projects had a little bigger presence, although this is THE culinary display. I comforted myself with the fact that Arizona only has 15 counties vs. Indiana's 92, although I'm not sure if the State Fair 4-H projects funnels through the counties like Indiana's does.

There were several cool exhibits. One to fallen Arizona soldiers that was sad and lovely and a whole space dedicated to an exhibit of giant electronic bugs with the requisite photo opportunity.

I'm not a corn dog eater, but the addition of bacon does make it more appealing. The usual Fair foods were represented with some ethic twists.

Indian Fry Bread tastes suspiciously like an Elephant Ear. The Indiana State Fair is 'dry.' It was odd to walk by tents selling Bud Light.

And there was a rocking face painter somewhere on the grounds.

I'm glad that we went and I loved spending time with Ann and Tim. And it's always nice to return home feeling smug about something about your home state, especially when you're leaving sunny Arizona and fly into cold and dreary Indiana.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

poptarts for grownups

Ann and Tim and I went to dinner tonight and explored one of the downtown Phoenix's newest restaurants/pubs, Angels Trumpet Ale House. I had a great salad to balance out the homemade potato chip appetizer and this tastes better than it looks dessert.

The homemade poptart featured a pumpkin/ginger filling and warm vanilla icing. May I suggest pairing it with the Lefthand Milk Stout beer?

We had a grand time on the outdoor patio looking a dogs, chatting about our lives, the neighborhood, and other exciting topics. On the way out we were lucky enough to meet the owners. I wish I lived close enough to check out TV Dinner Tuesdays.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I'm not a big conference goer. I've never had a job where conferences are a big part of the working culture. In the last few years I was more likely to be a panelist or presenter than attendee.

It is exciting to be with other organizations who do similar things to Second Helpings, although none of us are exactly alike. For instance of the agencies attending the Catalyst Kitchens Summit we are the only ones who use all rescued food. And our training program is the shortest, at ten weeks.

I'm soaking in tons of information and ideas and hopefully sharing best practices that others can use. Day One has been great, although I'm not used to sitting still this long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

pork belly and belly laughs

I've been quite the traveler this month. Only five days back from Austin and I'm gone again. I flew to Phoenix yesterday after work. I will be attending a conference and I'm lucky enough to get to stay with my dear sister, Ann and her darling husband, Tim.
I spent most of today napping, reading, and of course catching a few episodes of Law and Order. A dream day, really.

Annie and I ventured to Old Town Scottsdale for happy hour at the delicious Citizen's Public House. The food was great and a little fancy. We sampled three dishes - the Pork Belly Pastrami (served on rye spaezle with a Brussels sprout sauerkraut - Bernie's Mac 'n Cheese (Gorgonzola, Emmental, Cavatappi, and chilled tomato relish) - the Original Chopped Salad (corn, couscous, smoked salmon, asiago, pepitas, tomatoes, arugula, and currants).

Once I got over my "lipstick on a pig" thoughts of dressing up pork belly, mac 'n cheese, and salad I really enjoyed the food. My Sidecar cocktail was delicious too.

I have to say that my very favorite part was not only being with Ann, but that her friend who works at CPH joined us. I just loved seeing Ann laugh and have fun with adult friends. She and I are enough apart in age that she was in junior-high school when I went to college and she's lived in Phoenix so long that the paths of our friends don't often meet.

A lovely evening of pork belly and belly laughs.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Note the fabulous bar top

Sweetie has been working really hard on helping to get the Aristocrat back open after a fire over a year ago. The pub threw a Contractor's Appreciation Party last night before the official opening. 

I loved being able to watch him greeting the folks he'd been working with for months and being able to admire his handiwork properly. 

I'm trying to work up enough nerve to share the details of the night of the fire - don't worry, I didn't cause the fire - maybe soon....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the big oh-four

 The girl one.

The Twins turned four last week. They are real live people now and I'm not even afraid of breaking them anymore, although Sissy took a tumble when twirling with the microphone that I gave her. Through her tears she determined that her birthday watch was not cracked and the microphone was fine. She wiggled her fingers and declared them "not broken. If my fingers were broken I couldn't pick flowers or open doors." She's discovered two of the joys of life already - flowers and open doors. I always joke that she is watching and soaking it all in waiting to be old enough to take over the world. She's well on her way.

Bubba throws his whole self into anything in his path exploring everything thoroughly. He makes sure that no stone is unturned, both literally and figuratively.

It has been a true joy to watch them grow up and selfishly I'm glad that I live just a few blocks away even though I don't see them as often as I should.

Happy birthday, kiddos!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

homemade pie and lutheran coffee

We had our first gig this evening. Homemade Pie fit right in with the rest of the offerings at the church pitch-in. There was green bean casserole, cocktails weenies in BBQ sauce, slaw, sauerkraut with potatoes and sausage, three kinds of pie, and snickerdoodles.

The room was full of awesome people. A row of darling girls sat on the floor in front of us, families and grandparents filled the round tables with folding chairs behind us. I soaked in the vibe of fellowship and good natured-ness. 

 You can get your own taste of Homemade Pie here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

line cooking

Awesome volunteers including Mom and sister Beth

It has been a hectic week between trying to catch up from being in Austin and getting ready to leave town next week. To top it off we have the student exercise this week where the students prepare lunch to order. 

The Line Cooking days are my favorite days - I get to be the expeditor - which means that I get to be the loudest person in the kitchen, calling the orders and controlling the timing. 

We also need volunteers to act as servers and food runners. I tap in to my great list of family and friends. While the line cooking days are filled with stress they also feature a good deal of laughter. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

slingin' beers and flippin' burgers

Red Key Jukebox 
There is a cause and effect of going out of town for a week for me - three jobs to be covered. I have plenty of vacation time at Second Helpings, but between wrapping things up to leave, answering e-mails when gone, and catching up when I get back, I can quickly feel overwhelmed. I think I did I good job this time of balancing everything with the day job this time.

One of the consequences of being off last Saturday and needing this Saturday off, I had some shifts to make up for the folks that graciously covered for me.

I raced from my first day back at SH to working at the Red Key last night. And I'll do the same thing tonight. While it felt a little stressful, once I was there it was okay. I love the routine of taking orders, delivering their drinks and cooking their food and taking their money. There is satisfaction in seeing a task done from start to finish.

And I can sleep later, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

wrapping it all up

Scott Avett

Here is my recap of Day Three of the Austin City Limits Fest.

I can't wait to do it all again!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

home again home again

Me. Austin Airport 4:30 a.m. The only part of me that was fit to photograph


My flight was at 6:00 a.m., which meant getting to the airport at 4:30.


I had a great time in Austin and it was nice to spend almost a week away from work and mowing the grass and doing laundry and the day-to-day business of being Nora.

For my re-cap of Day Two of the Austin City Limits (with photographs!) click here:

Monday, October 15, 2012


My favorite shoes are staying in Austin.

Sorry Austin.

It has been a great vacation. I heard at least nineteen bands and watched at least twice as many Law and Order episodes.

The week was a nice mix of music, writing, watching television, and napping.

Between the flurry of wrapping up work and getting ready to leave town and the slight pressure to get the photographs edited and recaps written, not to mention the hours spent at the festival I was still a little tightly wound.

Today was the day of true relaxation. A lovely steak and a whiskey made it seem like vacation.

Just in time to pack and set my alarm for 4:00 for a 6:00 am flight time.

It was fun while it lasted!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

red hot

Flea. Red Hot Chili Peppers. Austin City Limits Fest 2012

I was lucky enough to have photo credentials for the Red Hot Chili Peppers show at the Austin City Limits Fest. 

I’m blown away by the staying power and popularity of the band. At the risk of showing my age, my first RHCP concert was at the now defunct Indianapolis venue, the Patio in 1985. There are several grainy YouTube videos of the show (yes, there was video back in the day). 

I was in college then and I remember finishing my waitressing shift, driving the hour it took to get from Purdue to Indianapolis, changing out of my polyester Arni's uniform in the car, and spending my tip money on the cover charge and two beers. It was a crazy show. The band was all over the stage and in various stages of dress – there were tube socks involved, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, in the past 27 years I’ve seen them play in increasingly larger venues to arena stages. If anything the remaining band members – Anthony Kiedis and Flea – are in better shape now. Drummer Chad Smith joined the band in 1989; guitar player Josh Klinghoffer has been part of the lineup since 2009. For the record Klinghoffer was six-years old the first time I saw the Chili Peppers.

There were teenagers in the ACLF crowd that had been in the front row since 11:00 that morning that hadn’t been born when the band formed. The Red Hot Chili Peppers arrived on stage to thousands of fists pumping and screaming fans, and they started out with the energy to match the crowd.

They started with “Dani California” and played with an intensity reserved for younger men. Ironically Klinghoffer is nursing a broken foot and played a good part of the show from a chair, but couldn’t help jumping up and joining the fray several times.

The band ran through several of their hits, “Otherside,” “Suck My Kiss,” “Tell Me Baby,” “Under the Bridge,” By the Way,” and “Give it Away” during their two-hour set. I can’t imagine that everyone didn’t have a great time.

I know I did. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Danny Matthews and Tyler Wheeler

My camera and computer are friends again!

I'm busy editing that photos of the eight bands I photographed today.

Here is a recap of yesterday's music:

I'll leave you with one of the first photos that I took day. Check out the Wheeler Brothers, I think you'll like 'em.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I had a great day at at the Austin City Limits Festival.

I interviewed one band, the Wheeler Brothers and photographed five shows.

It was hot and muggy and I was sweating like an Indiana farm girl, but it's fun to be part of the fray.

I was looking forward to downloading the photos and posting a photo essay for Ghettoblaster, when I discovered that my new camera and old laptop don't talk to each other when you try to download RAW photos. Right now the photos are held hostage on my camera. I can't download the new software package because my computer has an older version of OS X.

So, I'll leave you with a photo of a photo on my camera of the beautiful and talented Esperanza Spalding.

And I've already adjusted my camera to a setting that my MacBook will like.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I picked up my photo credentials for the Austin City Limits Fest tonight.

The credentials are a wristband that you have to wear for all three days of the festival. Once you set the clasp the only way to take it off is to cut it. This insures that you won't share it with someone else.

Once I picked it up I worried that I would lose it before tomorrow.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to put it on right away?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Today was spent finishing one book and starting another, watching three Law and Orders in a row, napping until my back hurt from laying down so long, and a trip outside the house to see my friend uber-talented Stanley Smith play in at the delightful Elephant Room in Austin.

Can't think of a better way to start my vacation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


I left for the airport straight from work today.
It was weird to see my suitcase sitting next to my desk.

I don't know about you, but sometimes it is more hassle to get ready for vacation than it seems worth. It spent the whole day concentrating on getting the things on my list done - and I did it!

Made it to the first plane in time, and am now enjoying a two hour layover in Chicago. I'm starting to relax already - nothing to do with my dinner of an Irish whiskey and popcorn, I'm sure.

Monday, October 08, 2012


I'm leaving for Austin tomorrow.

I have a photo pass for the Austin City Limits Fest. I'll be writing and shooting photos for Ghettoblaster Magazine. 

As you can see my suitcase is pretty small. I've got it down pat after five years. Cotton skirts, Indianapolis-centric tees, vintage Converse All Star shoes, a going to church dress, and plenty of undies.

Hauling my MacBook, camera, three lenses, and all of the cords necessary takes up more room.

And lest you think I'm crazy for announcing on the World Wide Web that I'm leaving town for a week absolutely anything of value that I have is going with me. If you swing by the house please water the plants.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

speaking of pie...

How much pie is too much pie?

If you would have asked me that two weeks ago, my answer would have been: there is no such thing as too much pie. 

Today the answer is: fourteen. 

I belong to the board of School On Wheels, and they do amazing things in our community. The one hour that I tutor is always the best hour of my week.

A group of social media folks put on Pie Wars and as a member of the social media community I was asked to be a judge. I was on the cream and pumpkin pie team - and there were twelve entries. Yep, I tasted twelve different pies, and I'll admit to tasting a couple of them twice. The winner of my group was Joe Shoemaker's yummy sugar cream pie.

After that we tasted the winners in the other categories (fruit and nut) to crown the winner.

Fourteen bites of pie is a lot of pie. But all for a good cause and worth every single Weight Watchers point. I'll keep you posted on pie wars 2013.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


Remember when you were a kid and you thought that your dad was awful for rousting you from bed at 8:00 on Saturday mornings to scoop out the cow barn (you can guess what we were scooping) or sweep out the barn or pick up walnuts or pull weeds or whatever torturous project he could think of?

I think I missed a lesson in all of that.
I should have had kids so I could get that stuff done at my house.

I'm not a great housekeeper. I'm an all-or-nothing sort of girl. The grass practically needs to be baled after I finally cut it. There are either piles of paper and random shoes in the living room or it is spotless. 

I'm now seeing the wisdom on dedicating a day to chores. Saturday seems to be my default day to get things done. Grocery shop, fuel in the car, catch up on laundry, and putter around the house.

Dad had a point after all - it's good to start the week with things in order.

Friday, October 05, 2012

homemade pie

I've dusted off the typewriter and am click-clacking away for the fresh-from-the-oven band, Homemade Pie.

I can't tell you how dang excited I am! Getting to hangout with true musical talent is goose-bumpy good.

Your first chance to hear the newest old-fashioned band around is October 20, at Bethel Lutheran Church in Noblesville, IN (20650 Cumberland Road). We're opening for the Flea Bitten Dawgs.

Doors open at 6:00. Plan on socializing and enjoying a potluck dinner before the show -  bring some tasty food to share. I'm promising to  bake up a batch or two of my Indiana State Fair Blue Ribbon Snickerdoodles. And, of course, there will be pie!

What does Homemade Pie sound like?  A delightful mix of ukuleles, typewriter, fiddle, dulcimer, washtub-bass, slide whistle, washboard, kazoo, guitar, and amazing harmonies.

It doesn't get much better than an autumn evening of homemade food, music, and laughter.

$10 for adults; kids under 16 are free. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

behind the scenes

[click on the title of this post above to get the proper map to load]
Have you ever exactly what the inside of Second Helpings looks like?

Now you can take a peek!

View Larger Map

Some tips for taking the pictorial tour:
• On the upper right corner there is are two icons. Click on the one with four squares for full screen viewing.
• The wheel in the upper left corner will let you move around the room for the full 360 view.
• In the middle of the bottom of the photo arrows will appear that will move you from room to room. Suggested path is to start in the classroom, move straight through the door to tour the cafeteria, from there tour the cooler, blast chiller and production kitchen. From there go down the hallway to the storeroom areas, loop through the garage, to the dry storage, back through the cafeteria and end in the lobby.

How cool is that?

Visit TourTheMap to see other examples of thier work, and read about their Second Helpings experience by clicking here.

Thankfully they did not photograph the top of my desk. I don't think that they had enough cameras to do justice to the stacks of papers and such.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

robot on a swing

Sweetie with his new painting

What have I been doing for the last year or so? Besides continuing to work three jobs and write and volunteer work and trying to keep the house from falling down around my ears, I've been dating this guy. 

As much as I'm a put-it-all-out-there sort of person, Sweetie would be happy to live under the radar. 

He's a great guy - thoughtful, generous, age-appropriate, and likes my parents. And as you can see from this fuzzy photo, he's handsome too. Sweetie has been working even more than I have for the last year, working to rebuild his brother's restaurant. Remind me to tell you the story of the fire that destroyed the restaurant later. I can almost tell it without blushing. 

Friday we went to a raucous event, Art vs. Art.  It involves making noise to vote and a Wheel of Death. Yep. A spin of the wheel determines the fate of the losing painting in each round. Artists gathered two weeks ago and were all given the same supplies. Through a series of judging the field of over 100 paintings is narrowed down to 16.  

Final judging involved four rounds of head-to-head competition. Two randomly selected paintings square off on stage as the audience cheers wildly for their favorite. The electronic applause meter sends the winner to the next round; the losing painting faces the threat of destruction (by chainsaw,  samurai sword, etc.) as determined by a spin of the ominous Wheel of Death. The “losing” painting can only be saved from its impending doom if someone purchases the painting for the minimum purchase price. Artists take home 70% auction price.

My contention has always been that the paintings are easy to see from the stage tend to win. It's harder to see fine art from the balcony. This year the bout ended this way: 

The final round came down to the Angry Care Bear and Robot on a Swing (my titles). Keep in mind the audience had been drinking...well, hell, even I can't defend the Care Bear audience choice. 

After each round the Wheel of Death is spun and the only way to save it is if someone purchases the painting. An professional auctioneer comes to the stage and the bidding begins - the minimum bid increasing with each round. No one was bidding on Robot on the Swing  and the auctioneer was counting down, "goooingggg once, goooinggg twice" when I saw out of the corner of my eye a hand shooting up and heard a hearty "YEP!" 

Sweetie bought the painting! I was a little shocked. As he confirmed later, it was the first piece of original art work he'd ever purchased. The painting is fun and well done and you smile when you see it - to me the true test of art that you want hanging on your wall.

Happily, after over a year of dating he still surprises me. In a good way.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

snickerdoodle dandy

After twenty years of entering cookies in the Indiana State Fair I finally got the first place ribbon. The snickerdoodle category is typically hotly-contested, with many entries.

My English Toffee also got a ribbon - fourth place, and my dairy contest entry got second place.

I decided that for any sort of pitch-in/bring a dish event in the next year, I'll bring snickerdoodles. I've made twelve batches in the last two months - which could have something to do with my lack of weight loss...

They are super easy to make. If I can do, so can you. 


1-cup soft shortening
1 ½ - cup sugar
2 – eggs

2 ¾ - cup flour
2 t. cream of tarter
1 t. soda
½ t. salt

4 T. sugar
2 T. cinnamon

Mix the shortening, 1 ½ cup sugar, and eggs together; mixing until smooth.
Sift together the flour, cream of tarter, soda, and salt. Stir into batter.
Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls.
Mix the 4 T. sugar and cinnamon together in shallow bowl.
Roll the dough into the sugar/cinnamon mix.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes.

Nora hints: Make the dough ahead, you can refrigerate for a couple of days. You can also roll the dough in the the balls and refrigerate or freeze. Wait to roll in the cinnamon/sugar mix until you're ready to bake. Make sure not to overbake - the cookies should be pale or very light brown on the bottom. 

Happy baking! 

Monday, October 01, 2012

dr. drake to the psych ward, stat!

Rick Springfield, Indiana State Fair 2010, photographed by me

Last night I had one of those anxiety dreams where you are lost and seem to never get to where you're going. 
In this dream I couldn't find my car in a parking garage and I kept walking in to strange situations like craft fairs and church picnics, while worrying about being late for something important. 
Guess who appeared from around the corner to help me?
Mr. Rick Springfield (Dr. Noah Drake to you General Hospital fans) himself. And he was wearing a sweater with butterflies. 
I wish I could remember more.