New Venture

May 1st, 2017

Looky at me! Selling stuff on Etsy! People who don’t even know me have bought stuff so I feel all official now. Check me out (if you like pottery…if you don’t then it wouldn’t interest you)! I even have a new domain name with thoughts of a muddy type bloggy thingy. Haven’t decided what to do with it yet but it is mine for another 6 months while I think about it.


How do you work this thing?

November 4th, 2016

I get requests from time to time that I dust off my old soap box here. More often, folks just tell me that they miss it rather than asking me to revive it. I think many of us got out of the habit of reading blogs around the same time we got out of the habit of writing them. I said more than once that Facebook killed blogging in my circle. Well that and Google Reader folding. (Wasn’t that the name of the blog reader we all used?) And then the one I migrated to folded too. From time to time, I check in on some friends who continue to blog but most often I see what the old gang is up to via Facebook. I miss the community we built when we all blogged. It got me through some rough times with adoption and some isolating times with infants. I also miss the cheap therapy. I read old posts and think damn I used to be witty and have all sorts of things to say. I no longer feel like I have much to share – until I go comment on someone else’s post on facebook then I ramble on and on and on. But Cass tagged me on a taking stock post and I thought what the hell. Why not? So here we go, I’ll see if I can remember how this blogging thing works. (Hey! I remembered how to link a post! Woohoo!)

Cooking: I’m not very adventurous with my cooking these days. I don’t try a lot of new recipes and fall back on the tried and true. But I’ve enjoyed cooking with fresh veggies from our tiny garden and our CSA this summer. Last night, I used some of the last of our summer tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. There are probably just enough left for a batch of salsa.

Drinking: I bought myself a Nespresso machine with milk frother last year. I LOVE it. It makes morning happy. My keurig services my husband and children (hot water for instant oatmeal) but I rarely touch it these days (other than to refill the water because apparently no one else is capable.) Other than my morning double shot latte, I mostly drink water. Although, I have discovered in my old(er) age that I really appreciate a good rum. This is my current favorite when I can find it.

Reading: I just finished a not so great book for a book club. Prior to that, I read The Hand That Feeds – I recommend that one. †My mom sent me a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated (which ironically isn’t particularly illustrated – no shiny photos). Despite my apathetic cooking, it is a cool cooking magazine. They talk through all of the testing of the recipe and the WHY for different ingredients. I appreciate how thoughtful it is and I have a couple of recipes I want to try.

Making: Pottery. Specifically Christmas ornaments today. Anyone who has been in contact with me the past couple of years is aware of my new obsession with pottery. I have a wheel and baby kiln at home. I’m getting really close to opening an Etsy shop. It is all very exciting. Making pottery feels like a super power. I take dirt and turn it into pretty things! I’m constantly learning.

Watching: I’m watching in amazement as my girls grow into people. I started this little blog before they existed. And now Sabrina is 10. Tessa is 8. And they have lives outside of us and are full of attitude and opinions and sass. Some days I am just gobsmacked by how fast it all seems to be going. And then I think a little more about it and I remember how long the days were when they were little. It was hard. I wasn’t a great mom to toddlers. But we all made it through and now I like the people they are becoming.

Lunching: Friends are harder to keep touch with expiration of my Mom’s Club membership. People are busy with school activities and part time jobs – older relationships sometimes fall down on the priority list as new ones are made. It is just life. And despite my introverted tendencies, I need people who make it (read: me) a priority. I have a little group who keep 1 date clear every month and we have a 3 cocktail lunch. It is delightful. We eat, drink, and are merry. I cherish that monthly date. It matters. Girlfriends are good for the soul.

Loving: My husband. Still. More. I don’t know how that is possible but he continues to be even more amazing. He supports my pottery obsession. He is unfazed by my complete lack of ability to say what comes next for me. There is a big question mark looming out there for my future. And he is okay with that as long as I am. He continues to be an amazing father and husband. And he has found his passion in his current job.

Dipping: For the first time since moving here, I’ve started dipping my toe into local politics. We moved here when Sabrina was less than a year old and then I got pregnant with Tessa and life just kind of took over. I just finally feel able to look up and see what is happening around me. And unfortunately, it was a school board gone mad. (You might have heard about us on the national news. The crazy folks who wanted to remove all mention of Islam from our social studies/history books because our 99% white, Christian teachers were obviously indoctrinating our children to become Muslims? Sigh. Yes. That’s us.) We live in this vanilla suburb because of the schools and there was no way we could let the crazy take over. A lot of parents agreed so grass roots style we got some sane folks elected to our school board this year. We still have a couple of questionable members but they are out numbered by reasonable people. I’ve also got a yard sign for a lovely woman running for our state house. (Perhaps you heard about the TN lawmaker whose office was moved to a separate building because he couldn’t stop harassing all of the women at the state house? Also us.)

Wishing: We have built a great life here in Tennessee. But I wish we were closer to home. I wish we were closer to family. I wish we were closer to my BFF who has had some rough patches and I’m too far away to support her with anything other than ridiculously silly phone conversations. Our life here is great and we have great friends but I do miss home and those connections. (And it is SO conservative here that it makes me a bit crazy.)

Dreaming: Steve and I dream of being able to travel together. We both traveled before we met but started down the kid path pretty soon after getting together (that happens when you don’t find The One until you are in †your 30s) so we never had a chance to do that together. We have a laundry list of place we want to go. Someday.

Laughing: I find it hilarious to think what my 20 year old self would think of my 44 year old self. I was passionate about changing the world, my date book ruled my life – the fuller the better, never wanted kids or a husband, suburban life sounded so DULL. I’m a stay at home mom in the suburbs of Nashville. My life is dull. But that is okay. I told Steve after years of change and upheaval, I wanted some boring. Now I have it. I prefer to think of it as roots. I want my girls to have roots. I need to feel settled. A series of small choices all led me here. To this place. To this life. And it looks nothing like I planned or envisioned. But it is perfectly imperfect for me. For us.

Simple Tomato Soup

July 6th, 2016

This is not my recipe. But every time I make it, I have to double check the recipe because I’m convinced I’m forgetting something. It is so simple and so good. Even Sabrina drools over it and that child isn’t a big fan of anything that involves tomatoes. And that is almost all there is to this soup! Use the good tomatoes. I usually do 3 cans rather than 2 – leftovers. And there is enough butter and onion to carry 3 cans. I do add an extra couple dollops of 1/2 and 1/2. And I top it with a little swirl of basil flavored olive oil. I sometimes add in some fresh basil when I’m pureeing the soup but I’ve found the oil adds just enough without adding the leaves. So whatever your preference is. I know not everyone has basil olive oil on their counter. (I might have a slight addiction to a store around here that sells flavored olive oils and vinegars. Makes salad dressing oh so fun. My current favorite is the roasted red pepper blackberry vinegar. Yum! Also a little basil oil and a little lemon or orange flavored oil drizzled over a piece of fish before broiling adds a really bright flavor.) Okay, enough. I don’t have to yammer on. I’m really only doing this post so that *I* can find it when I need it. The blog, where it originated, was down the last couple of time I tried to check it. But to give credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from Laura’s Best Recipes.†Her recipe and directions follow: (I will add 1 more thing – you all remember that I have trouble shutting up – I like a few curls of parm or asiago on top too)

Creamy San Marzano Tomato Soup

  • 1 stick of organic, unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • Sea salt
  • 2 (28 oz) cans of certified San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (plus more if desired)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

In a large soup pot, melt the butter on low heat. Add the thin slices of onions and coat with the butter. Season generously with sea salt. Make sure the heat is at its lowest setting, cover and allow onions to cook for about 30 minutes until soft and translucent.† Use that low heat so the onions donít brown. You want them soft and sweet.

Add San Marzanos and their juices to the onions. Increase the heat just a touch to allow the mixture to simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and blend in batches.† Slowly pour a portion of the cream into each batch until youíve reached a desired creaminess.† Taste as you blend and season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve very hot.

The tomatoes I use (because they are what I can find)



December 3rd, 2015

Brownlee Family-171

Proof of Life

July 30th, 2014

Well look at me. I’m writing on my blog. It was a long winter and spring here. Anyone who knows me in person or on Facebook has seen various updates on my health. I had surgery in February and again in May. That was fun. And a great reminder from both my doctors and my body that 40 takes a lot longer to recover than 20. But I’m finally nearing normal again. I would say I’m at 85% and will get back to 100% once I get my butt in gear and do some exercise to rebuild my stamina.

So, what else…school ended. And is about to start again. Summer vacation was the annual beach trip and a couple of days in Asheville. I spent the first part of summer resting and recovering so it has been a pretty quiet one. The girls have been amazingly patient. No recipes – I haven’t been loving food much the last few months. No pottery to show off – I had to quit my class after the last surgery. I don’t have a lot to say – really thought I’d drop a photo and run. Getting ready to send Sabrina to the 3rd grade and Tessa (my baby turned 6 yesterday *sob*) to kindergarten. As most moms, I’m wondering where the time has gone. Here is my little fam in Asheville a few weeks ago.



I’m hoping to stop back in soon with actual words but no promises.

Mayday! Mayday!

April 29th, 2014

Three weeks. I only have 3 weeks left until summer vacation begins for the girls. Yikes! While I look forward to turning off the alarm clock and not packing lunches, we have entered an era of bickering that makes me fear 2 1/2 months of togetherness. Everything seems to become an argument these days. The girls will argue about exactly what shade of green the grass is. I’m hoping that this summer is better than last year weather-wise so that I can distract them with the pool more often.

Tessa is currently OBSESSED with horses. She got to ride a pony at a birthday party and was in heaven.



Easter egg coloring is serious business



Nothing says Easter like a nerf dart gun






Glaze covers many sins

March 21st, 2014

I got my pieces back from my first pottery class last night. I’m taking beginner pottery again (along with 3 other women from my last class). My pots are a little misshapen and wonky but I have to say the glaze makes them look much cuter than when they were just bisque fired. My main problem is that I haven’t got the whole pulling up the walls action. If you look, all of my pots/mugs/things are about the same height no matter how much clay I started with. My goal for remedial beginner pottery is to figure that piece out. But I have to say I like most of my little pieces. These are all of them but 1 raspberry colored bowl my mother in law chose as her favorite.






Steve made fun of the mug. It is pretty shallow and weighs a ton because of all of the clay in the bottom that didn’t get pulled up. I’m determined to figure this out and hope to have a little more variety of shape and size to show off after this round of classes.


Spring preview

March 16th, 2014

Time keeps marching forward at a much faster pace than seems possible. The girls continue to get bigger despite my best efforts to keep them my babies. †Sabrina is 7 1/2. Tessa is 5 1/2. Tessa outgrew both her bike helmet and her bike over this never ending winter. Sabrina continues to thwart all efforts to teach her to ride her bike without training wheels while at the same time starting to outgrow the bike she refuses to ride. Spring break is this week. Only 2 months of the school year remain. Then I will have a 3rd grader and a kindergartener. And I will have to figure out what the next chapter of my life holds. No pressure.

For now, let’s focus on some photographic evidence that this winter might end at some point. We had a little taste of spring last weekend and took advantage of it by playing outside.















I’ll have a post later this week or next weekend to show off the first round of my finished pottery pieces. Warning: there will be many disclaimers about how hard it is because many of them are ugly and misshapen. But I love them anyway.

Reinventing the wheel – or how to give up your control issues for 3 hours a week

February 7th, 2014



Steve and I celebrated our 9th anniversary in October. Ninth anniversary is pottery. I might kind of have a thing for pottery. Steve, being the amazing husband that he is, signed me up for a pottery class as my gift. I was so excited – I’ve always wanted to try throwing pottery. I couldn’t take the class the started right after our anniversary because the first class conflicted with Sabrina cheering at a football game (the things we do for our kiddos) so I started the session that began in January. It is 8 weeks for 3 hours each session.

It is so much fun. And so freaking hard. This sounds conceited but I am usually good at things when I put my mind to it. But so far? I suck at pottery. Yet I still love it. Did I mention it is hard? I’ve got the centering down which is what I had always heard was so difficult so I thought I was golden. Nope. For me the difficult part is pulling the walls up. I just can’t quite get the motion and the pressure right. I either put my finger through the wall or I get timid and don’t pull enough clay up from the bottom. And just when I think I’ve discovered all the ways I can destroy my creations, we learn trimming. That went horribly wrong as well. I just finished my 4th class. I have to say last night went way better than the first 3 weeks. We throw 4 pieces each class and I left the class with 4 intact pieces. Previously, I only had 3 pieces total that survived to their first firing.

The process is fun. It is kind of cool to get that dirty as a grown up – I haven’t been that muddy in *mumble mumble* years. I think it is good for me to do something that I suck at but enjoy. It is humbling. And it also makes me loosen up a bit with my control issues. I might seem laid back but only when I am in control *insert evil laugh*. Once I have some complete pieces (still need to glaze and fire again), I’ll share them here. Keep your expectations low. They are ugly. Not rustic. Ugly. But they are mine and I’ll be proud of them.

Christmas 2013

January 5th, 2014

We always enjoy our trips home. We spent most of this one sick and in and out of bed but at least we got to do it in the comfort of a quiet hotel room. The girls stayed with my inlaws and had a grand time. They had their first Build A Bear experience – and both chose to build My Little Ponies instead of bears. No surprise there. They played with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. We spent 2 days in Ohio at the end of our trip. I actually made it out to have a beer in one of my old haunts. That allowed me to hang out with my sister and see a couple of friends. Going home always makes me home sick. I remind myself that it wouldn’t be the same living there again but it is hard to remember that some days. But it is always nice to return home too. We had some friends over for a potluck on new years eve and that reminded me why TN is home too now.

My snaggle tooth girl – her front tooth was hanging by a thread for ages. Then it and a bottom one came out at the same time.


Tessa is into super heroes right now. I love it because I am tired of princesses and glitter. We are having fun with the superhero toys she got for Christmas. She also loves legos and magnetic tiles. I encourage anything that isn’t pink these days.


Sabrina is starting to get into music. We managed to keep her into the 80s for a long time but she is starting to hear about other things from her friends. She got a little MP3 player this year and loves it. Taylor Swift is a current favorite.


We try not to spoil the girls but it warms my heart to be able to make their faces light up with a requested toy. Sabrina was bummed because she didn’t get an Equestria Girl doll as she requested from Santa. She found a Rainbow Dash Equestria Girl under the tree at home and was thrilled. Tessa wanted a barbie with a horse and was happy to find that under the tree.



Hope you all had a very merry and happy holiday.

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