Picnic Point

Oh how I miss you so.  A number of my favorite places are in or near Madison, WI, but Picnic Point takes the cake.  I can't remember when I first discovered it; probably during a girls engineering camp the summer before my senior year of high school, or maybe it was on one of my first runs as a college freshman.  Either way, it is simply a beautiful spot.

A view with the capital sticking up in the back, and the engineering building on the right.

Madison has a great system of bike trials, including one that goes right past the entrance of Picnic Point for easy access.  A parking lot is right there too, so you can find all walks of life out on the path.  Everyone from college kids on a run to old folks on a bird-watching stroll.  The Point itself is about 3/4 miles long.  Beyond that there are a few different shoots of trails that wander along Lake Mendota's coast around Eagle Heights and Shorewood Hills.  All are excellent running trails with a few challenging hills thrown in the mix. 

Trails and running go so well together.  The crunch of leaves.  The lapping water nearby. The squirrels, blackberries, adventure and sweat.  It all just works.

Another view from PP.  Makes me smile :)

My last nostalgic trip to Picnic Point was just over a year ago.  I was living in Madison by myself during a somewhat sad time, desperately waiting to hear back about a job interview and trying to keep my hopes up.  I drove over to make myself feel better and just walked it so I could savor the moment (wow...tearing up now just thinking about that time).  The sun was out with a crisp fall breeze around.  It was lovely. 

This last visit brought me a surprise though.  They were doing construction on the end.  I think the goal was to create a nicer public meeting circle and fire pit.  In the process though, they seem to have taken down a number of trees (good for the view, bad for the trees).  The project is probably complete, so I will have to stop by on my next trip to Madtown to see how it all turned out. 

Fenced off with the plans.

You can see the other side of Lake Mendota through the trees.

More fencing.

What is your favorite running spot?


The Good & The Bad

The Good: 

Lots of cuddles from the kitties, more cuddling in the hammock, ran into some Wisconsinites in Houston and had dinner/drinks with them and another couple.  Made lots of tasty food on Sunday:  egg/cornbread bake for breakfast, chicken strips with Kraft's Fresh Take for lunch, and homemade chicken broth for soup later this week!

They have tasty drinks and burgers, but really really weird artwork. 
The regulars looked a little odd too, and it wasn't just because it was Halloween weekend.

Pumpkin lets Pi clean his face once in a while.  Awwww...

The Bad: 

Badgers lost, Packers tried to lose (but thankfully changed their mind), 20 degree temperature drop.  No pictures...

As you can hopefully see, this weekend was overall very good :)   Now, back to work!

Reflections on the lake.

Amazing Race

  1. Finally, a good road block.  Building a scale took both mental and physical effort. 
  2. I'm not sure what is worse, bickering goat farmers or the twinnies cheering.
  3. The bamboo carrying task was okay.  I was going to say it was too easy, but then the biking part seemed to even the field out.  It certainly upped the entertainment value with the Bangladesh traffic. 
  4. Who knew Chippendales couldn't count?
  5. OMG.  Who cares about the record for wins?  Abby and Ryan already have the opportunity for 2 Million.
  6. Happy that the goat farmers turned their attitude around and are sticking around for more race.


Little Stinker!

Pumpkin insists on jumping on my counter and licking anything with food or oil on it.  His practice has been getting worse and worse over the last few months. 

It normally goes like this...

  1. Bret and I are eating dinner, watching Bri-Bri or another TV show.
  2. We hear a faint "clink clink", "crunch crunch" or "smash!"  coming from the kitchen.
  3. We look at each other with either (a) a frown or (b) furrowed brow.
  4. Then one of us gets up to catch Pumpkin in the act of counter tromping.
  5. Sometimes we catch him on the counter, other times he has heard us and is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor liking his lips and cleaning his face.
  6. We yell and try to grab him before he hides under the dining room table. 
  7. Repeat next dinner...

Well this time was slightly different.  I started covering up leftovers and/or putting them in the fridge immediately, so Pumpkin's options have dwindled (sorry Buddy!).  This time we heard a clink and Bret was nice enough to get up to go scold the Pump-can-not.  He crept over to the kitchen and quietly signaled for me to come over quick too.  Pumpkin was head down in the kitchen sink.  He was so intently liking the lasagna knife, that he did not hear the two of us.  Ugh!  We pounced on him and taught him what the sink is really for.  Unfortunately, he will forget the episode and keep jumping up.

The Stinker himself!

Side note:  Pi used to be "the little stinker" or Pi-terd because she always pooped on herself.  She literally stank from the turds that would stick to her.  The hair was too long around her arse and they would just get caught.  That problem cleared itself up in the last year though as she got better at pooping or cleaning.  Either way I am happy not to have to trim butt hairs!


Health Fair

It's that time again...insurance enrollment!  I bet you were thinking Halloween, the holidays, or the weekend :)

As much as I dislike going to the doctor and pharmacy, I am thankful to have to opportunity to have insurance and not have to worry about the what ifs.  As always, the prices is going up this year with less coverage.  I'm still not complaining,  it's just funny.  There goes my "merit" increase...

To kick things off, my company had a big Health Fair this week.  There were a few perks:
    Loot from the fair.
  • Got free enrolment at the office gym until January.  I haven't joined until now because I think it is SOOOO STUPID that we have to pay for it at all.  This is just one of the many things I have found different (in a disappointing way) from my old company.  My old office gym had free use of towels and an individual locker and laundry service for gym clothes...I know...I was spoiled. 
  • Freebies
  • Lists of doctors.  I need to find a regular doctor here in Houston.
  • I also won a door prize of a two week pass to the LA Fitness by the office.  At first I thought 'Cool, I don't really need this now, but might like it for swimming sometime in the future.' But, by "two weeks"  they meant that it expires on 11/6/12.  Perfect, well that was a waste of my luck. 


This post is a little too snarky for my taste, but it's how I'm feeling right now.  

Other Things

Dinner one night with homemade pesto covering everything.  Very yummy.

Turtle brownies with extra nuts, chocolate and chocolate granola. 
The fiance's idea, not mine.

Glass was broken in the kitchen, so the kitties were locked up in the bedroom for safety.
See that string on the floor in the back?  Yep, that's how I tricked them into following me ;)

Have a great weekend!!!


Recipes I want to try...

Homemade Soups 



...in anything.  I have never cooked plain lentils ever.


Baked Oatmeal

Like this or this.

Not yet baked oats...



I bought my second ever artichoke this week.  It seemed like a good challenge, but I am a little scared.  My first ever artichoke was from a farmers market in Chicago during my summer internship in 2007.  It sat in the back of the fridge, dried up and was ultimately thrown out.  Fail...


Chia Seed Jam 

Seems like a no-brainer now that I regularly have chia seeds in my house.


And many, many more.


Survivor 10/24

  1. Crazy reward challenge showdown.  It's like they were just snoozing.  I wonder how long that first only group took?  I was originally going to say this challenge was kinda boring, you know been-there-done-that, but it took a turn for the better!  Bartering for a reward is cool, but yellow shouldn't have been that desperate.  Is Penner setting himself up for a fail?  Kinda, but he did catch a couple. 
  2. Outwit, Outplay, Outstarve?  I suppose Outstarve is about the same as Outlast.
  3. Eww!  Raw fish...
  4. Malcolm is just sooooo awesome.  Thanks to him Artis has to live with Skupin another three days!  Oh the torture...It was interesting how the drama shifted from women to men this episode.
  5. OMG!!! Carter was almost busted.
  6. Thank you Penner for the lovely explanation of why you are blindsiding Katie.  You are such a nice guy.
  7. Jeff & Carter picked right.  Penner has the immunity idol and that could be extremely helpful if they merge short sided.

What recipes are you dying to try?


Peanut Butter Pumpkin Swirl Pancakes

This Saturday I felt like making a new breakfast.  My first thought was pumpkin french toast.  There are a number of recipes floating around where you add pumpkin to the egg part.  It looks good, and always seems to please the eaters.  Well, we had three eggs, but they were already a few weeks past expiration :(  Not deterred, I thought of Angela's pancakes that have been intriguing me for a while.  She is vegan, and first introduced me to the idea of a flax egg as a replacement for a real egg. Hmmmm....  Well, there was no better time to try it out than when my chicken eggs were bad, so I forged ahead into unknown territory.

The base pancake recipe is practically the same as Angela's, but the swirl turned it into a pumpkin-wonderful breakfast.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Swirl Pancakes


Amazing Race Favorites

I really wanted to come up with 10, but just couldn't find that last one.  So here are my top 9 favorite things about The Amazing Race.


Phil's accent and the way he says "episode."


Any couple from Big Brother or Survivor.  My favorite was Jeff & Jordan, but Brenden & Rachel really amped up the dram and tears.  Rob & Amber were good too, but happened too long ago to remember what they did.  I am still waiting for Will & Boogie to do the race, but I think that ship has sailed. 


Green glitter anyone?


The sisters' bathroom break that may or may not have caused them elimination in China.  And the painful synchronized diving detour they failed miserably at. 


When Canaan tried to shove his girl friend Mika down the water slide in Dubai.  Around 20 seconds in you get a snippet of the action.  I wish I could find a better shot of the whole thing, but the second video shows the Globetrotters encouraging Mika NOT to go down the slide so they could get to the finish first. It worked.


Haystack roll-down.  Needle in a haystack, that is definitely a make or break challenge.  It's been done twice already, but I would welcome it again.

He's trying to hard here.


Wasabi bomb game show in Japan.


Bunny jumping obstacle course.  Sooooo cute!


Cheese Hill Challenge.  This could almost tie for #1, but was just edged out.  So so so funny. 

And my all time favorite Amazing Race moment is...   


Watermelon in the face!  The watermelon slingshot that backfired into Claire's face was epic.  The producers of the Amazing race were even generous enough to replay the smash over and over again.  In slow motion even!  I could not stop laughing or cringing. 

What is your Amazing Race favorite?  I am sure I missed a few golden nuggets.




Happy Monday!?  This weekend past weekend was really great and productive.   A little bit each day we did landscape renovation work.  Thursday and Friday involved ripping out seven or eight more of those ridiculous root ball plants.  Luckily, half of them were smaller that that first so it wasn't soooo bad.  Then Saturday and Sunday mornings, before football games, we weeded, fabriced and mulched.  The big stuff is done, but I am sure more work will find it's way on to our To-Do list though.

We now have a glorious view of the lake, and I am happy to say the work has all been worth it.

So peaceful.



So you know I was in Seattle last week, home of the great and mighty (expensive) Starbucks.  I knew I had to stop in before my trip was over, but little did I know it would be a totally new experience.  My VP, a regular Starbucks coffee drinker, was traveling with me and said we absolutely had to try the Clover coffee while in Seattle.  I'm usually game for anything, so I found a place along our travel route using a list Melody put together here.  You can attempt to find one near you too, but there aren't many options in WI yet.

Meet the Clover Brewer


Texas Awesomness

I guess hunting and fishing are a big deal in Texas.  Who knew? :)  Well, to supply all the sportsmen (and women in binders) there are plenty of stores, but the Bass Pro Shop in Pearland, TX definitely puts them all to shame.  It is this ginormous store with the following and more...
  1. Fishing items galore
  2. Fishing clothing and regular clothing (this is where I spent the majority of my time in the past).
  3. Fudge shop - with free samples at the entrance!
  4. Boats
  5. Full Restaurant & Bar
  6. Huge fish tanks (as in a whole wall).
I was lucky enough to find myself at said Bass Pro Shop again last weekend.  Instead of perusing the latest trends in bait & tackle, I entertained myself in gigantic, well decorated lobby.  Enjoy.

Longhorn overseeing the turnstiles.

Because of course there should be a humungo fireplace in a store like this.

Yet another chandelier with antlers.  Must be the cool thing to do in Texas.

In case you forget what state you are in.  Above the entrance.

Longhorn love seat? 
My foyer is a little empty, so maybe I should start looking for something like this.


Fall Colors in Houston

Say what?!  Yeah, I think I mentioned before that I really miss fall in Wisconsin.  The pretty colors, hiking, apple picking (and pies and cider).  Sigh....

In Houston, some trees do lose their leave, but they have an extremely odd way of doing so. Here we go...


Great Weekend

Whoa!  I am behind the blogging ball these days.  There has been just too much work to do (and play) since traveling last week and hosting guests this weekend. 

The rain was coming in to Seattle just as I was leaving on Friday morning.  It was nice to be on my way home to some great weather, people and cats.  We had 80's most of the weekend I think, and plenty of sun to warm up to pool to a cool 79-80 degrees :)  I am afraid that pool temp won't last much longer, but I really can't complain. 

Friday we stopped at St. Arnold's brewery for a tour and BEER!  It was fun, as expected, and I was able to try the Christmas seasonal brew.  It had excellent flavor and was slightly sweet.  This will definitely be making it's way to a fridge near me in the next few months. 

Enjoying the samples.


Seattle & Survivor

Goodbye abnormally sunny Seattle.  Can you even see the base of the Space Needle in that fog?




I have only spent two short work trips to Seattle, but I am really liking the city.  It may have too much traffic, but at least there is relatively ample public transportation available.  Tons of wonderful views and a close proximity to wilderness.  The issue for me would be the dreiness and rain.  People seem to deal with it though, so I probably could too.  Plus, there are a ton of coffee shops and stands (not just Starbucks) that could keep me going :)



  1. My appreciation for Pete's game is off the charts.  OMG! he totally is a gamer...haha :)  So much more smooth and subtle than even Russle (Hantz).
  2. Team Jon & Jeff!  I like this team-up even if it is short lived.  Who is this bleach blond boy?  I'll take him along too!  OMG, and now the Red Girls are on to them.  I like them now even better!  I think I have a soft spot for smart and sneaky girl power...
  3. Malcolm is very intelligent and Denise just plain rocks.  Having no shame also rocks (when it comes to Reality TV).
  4. Finally...Finally Russel starts looking for the immunity idol.  haha!  His awareness of the cameras, and lack there of the idol makes me laugh.  Idiot is more like it...
  5. Yellow drammmaaaa continues between RC and Abi!  Lisa is super smart to fan the flames and stay out of it.  She (Lisa) would get my vote for most improved player for sure.
  6. F!!!!! I cannot believe how terrible Matsing is at challenges.  At least RC lives on.
  7. Here is a bus...underneath you will find both Malcolm and Denise...throwing each other there.  Who is going? I love Malcolm's personal comments and I hope he stays...good. 
  8. Now, did Russ take the HI clue with him?  I would love for Malcolm and/or Denise to find theirs.



I miss Bret and those two...time to go home!



The day in Seattle started a little dreary (or, as Seattleites would say, normal...).  But then around 1 PM the sun came out!  It made for a nice drive into downtown to my next stop.  After catching up on emails, it was time to get some dinner.  Because I was basically next door to the Space Needle, I had to stop by.  So I did! 


Interesting Evening

I saw one really pretty sight yesterday, a snow covered mountain off in the mist (while driving so no picture), but the rest of my evening was a little lack luster.  Daily Garnish is a vegetarian blogger from Seattle that I have been following lately, so when I found out about my trip, I scoped out her recommendations.  I found a sister restaurant to one she recommended, but just closer to where my work is.  Big mistake!  There are obviously a lot of awesome places here, and I just picked particulalry poorly... 


Kitty Cat

If you missed SNL this weekend, please watch this :)  Bobby Moynihan is so funny...and looks like Chris Farley here!  I am pretty sure I started crying from laughing.  Sooooo funny!

Link Here:  Mars Mission (Kittens are the cutest) 

Nuff Said.

In case that wasn't enough, here are a couple cute pictures of The Pi.


More Pumpkin

Last night I was on my own.  Bret had to work, so it was just me, leftover pumpkin and the two kitties.  There was also a few episodes of Mad Men and wine :)



Why do people do landscaping?  Plants always just seem to take over cause more and more work!  Okay, enough venting for now.  The plants at our house were seriously taking over before we decided to lay the smack down.  Remember how we were doing yard work last weekend?  Well, we did a bit more a couple of nights ago, and now I have picture proof!

After weekend work, before this week's clearing.



Happy Thursday everyone!  This week is really flying by, and I believe the next one will too.  On Monday I'm hitting the road again for work.  This time in Seattle, so that should be fun.  Then, the that following weekend we have visitors.  Yay!!! 

Bad news, I missed Survivor last night :( and do not have any comments yet, but I hope to tomorrow.  Instead, I give you a few random photos from my travels this summer.


Homemade Pumpkin Butter

There is a first time for everything!  As it is fall, a ton of blogs have been sharing pictures and recipes for pumpkin everything.  I have definitely been thinking about pumpkin too much, so when Bret & I were at Houston Garden Center and I saw all the pumpkins I knew it was time...

We got two of each :) 


Weekend Fun

This weekend was pretty good for weekend standards.  I think it helped that Sunday was mild weather wise and the Packers won.  

Friday and Saturday the weather was actually rather crappy.  Rainy, and chilly for Houston.  We started the day with homemade bagel breakfast sandwiches (free bagels from work!), then test drove a few cars, and ended the night, horribly, with the badgers loss.  Boooo...