Soup Swap 2015


This is my third time hosting a Soup Swap at my house.  I love having this party so much, but I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of work… for your guests.  As for me as the hostess? Cheese platter, wine, seltzer, and mopping the long overdue floor. Oh, and of course my husband will have you know he spent 45 minutes doing the dishes from the last 2 days.

Every year there’s suggestions from guests about how to make the party better, and that’s awesome.  The original idea came from this website.  This year, where guests brought a crock-pot with the soup in it so we could all taste the soup in my kitchen made it an even easier dinner party, and helped us all step up our soup-making game. I provided 16oz containers to package up our soups.  Easy peasy, and made for that stunning rainbow assortment of soups above.

As an aside, if I had been able to tell my 22 year old self that in 7 short years I’d be hosting a party where it’s required that you can make something (and not just pick up a bag of chips) I’d have laughed at you.  Here’s the list of foods I knew how to cook from scratch a box at age 22.

  1. Pasta.

Short list, huh?

Oh, the times have changed.

Here are two things that helped me change in the meantime.


Here’s the soup I chose from Bittman’s Cookbook, slightly modified.

Lentil Soup with Coconut.

Makes 4 Servings. 1 1/2 Hours, Largely unattended.


  • 2-3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T minced, peeled, fresh ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 2 T McCormick red curry powder
  • 1 T McCormick yellow curry powder
  • 1 c chopped canned tomato
  • 1/4 c shredded coconut
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 1/2 c cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 c red lentils
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 1 can (12 oz) coconut milk


  1. Put the oil in a 5 qt saucepan over med-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn heat down to med-low.  Add the squash and cauliflower and allow to cook until vegetables are semi-soft (15-20 minutes).
  2. Turn the heat back up to med-high and add tumeric and curry powder.  Cook until dark and fragrant.  Stir in tomato, coconut, zucchini, and lentils.  Add the stock and coconut milk, then bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to med-low again so that it gently boils.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally until lentils and vegetables break apart, 30-40 minutes.  Add water as necessary, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve.  Preferably with a few shreds of coconut on top.

TaDa!  See ya’ll next year for Soup Swap 2016.


30 by 30 Countdown

With 6 months to go I’ve completed 7/30 items on my #30by30 list. Read more to see which ones I’ve done, and which ones have been the most trouble.

My 30th’s birthday is 6 months away – and I’ve done… 7 things. On the bright side, between September 8 and October 8 has been my most productive month – I hit 4 of them!

Galaxy Hill 27 Galaxy Hill 42 Galaxy Hill 41 Galaxy Hill 40 Galaxy Hill 38

4 Goals I finished in the last month:

  1. Finished my Masters Degree – I turned in my last assignment midway through September and Friday October 10th I finalized my paperwork for graduation. Although I won’t officially be graduated till December, or get my diploma until March, or be able to walk until May… (seriously. All that is kind of depressing)…. I am done with the work part!
  2. Attended a Professional Conference – NEHRA conference in Worcester on October 8, and I heard some great speakers, learned some great tools in my field, and yes, came home with a fistful of business cards.
  3. Went on a Weekend Road Trip – A friend recently asked me “Can you ever have as much fun with your friends if you all bring along your kids too?” A weekend long trip to VT with my ConnectShore buddies answered the question with a resounding yes. At one point we foolishly all tried to sit down to an adult type dinner with candles. I lit the candles – with great expectations – and they were quickly extinguished.  But hikes in the woods, apple picking, eating and so.much.laughter. really made the weekend amazing.  Different fun… but still very fun.  (See the above photos!)
  4. Went to a Wine Tasting – I tried a weekly wine tasting with a friend in Salem.  It was less pretentious than I thought, but as Marta pointed out, they do it every week.  I’m not necessarily sure I expanded my knowledge of wine – but I was happy.

3 Goals I’m having the most trouble with right now:

  1. Learning 4 new functions on my camera – I found a meetup group to join… but then the focus started going wonky on my Nikon D3100.   I’ve been seriously procrastinating on getting it looked at because it seems like a hassle.
  2. Running the 66% of the North Shore Trail Series – I thought it would be good to put a percentage on this goal- since SMART goals are well, smart. But then… life happened and I can’t make the percentage goal.   So, I will only run 3 of the races this year. My younger self – my black and white self- would declare this a failure. My wiser, older, more moderate self sees that challenging myself to try and run trail races, something I haven’t done in 10 years, helped to reinvigorate my love of running.
  3. Deciding what to do with this blogI love blogging. I’ve blogged for a long time, even here at this site!  But… I see the world of blogging is so different now than it was 5, 10 years ago…. I just can’t decide if I want to keep it personal, launch a more professional site, or … just keep on keeping on in the way that I do.

2 Goals in progress right now that I’m really excited about:

  1. Becoming a mentor – I volunteered to be a mentor for a freshman undergrad student at Salem State, and although the first student I was paired with dropped out of the program, I’m still optimistic about being part of a way to give back to an educational institution where I had a positive experience and share some of my hard won career and life skills.
  2. Getting a job – After going to the conference and new connections, I’m more excited than ever to continue reaching out to others, researching positions, and (hopefully soon) getting some interviews.

1 Thing I’m keeping in mind

Sure I’ve only done 7 things… but like my friend Emily said over at Relishments a week or so ago about her 101 in 1001 days list”many of these items were too specific for who I was when I wrote it and as things changed in my life, the list didn’t.”

Plans and priorities shift, roles change, and sometimes a list just shows a past self you aren’t sure you still want to be. 

Some of these things won’t get done… but I’m still excited to see how many I can do.

Here’s to the next 6 months!

All Growing Up 30by30

5 Lessons Learned this Summer

Five growing up lessons I learned this summer about myself, work, christianity, and ginger beer punctuated by the beautiful Salem, MA and Boston, MA harbors.

Salem MA Harbor Derby Salem Lighthouse

1. The two most questions to learn to ask as a critical thinker and kick-ass adult are: What is the context. What are the possible consequences. Every time I get myself into trouble it’s pretty much because I forget to ask these questions. Yeah, I got myself into a little bit of trouble this summer, but it wasn’t terrible enough to blog about it.

Mahi Mahi Cruise Marblehead Lighthouse Salem Harbor Sunset

2. I am a morning-not-a-morning person. Every person who has ever lived with me can vouch that I’m a grumpy gus from the moment I roll out of bed until at least an hour later, or when I get my first cup of coffee – whichever happens first. I don’t like small talk, whiny kids, or anything that stands in my way.

Which is why I was so surprised to take the Employee Engagement Accelerator Index at my work and have a lightbulb realization that when it comes to WORK, I am most definitely a morning person.  I get the most items on the check list checked off, am able to write decent prose, and function credibly and skillfully at meetings. On the other hand, if you get me at 3pm, all of these abilities have strongly declined.  So. I guess I am a morning person. Kind of.

Boston Harbor

3. I am still excited by Industrial Organizational Psychology – the study of behavior and motivation in the workplace.  As I’m finishing up my MS degree I’m not required to take any more classes, but surprise, I am motivated to learn more about this topic.  Unlike the end of my undergraduate career, where I wanted to run as far away as I could from all things academic, I’m still reading and learning the way theory and practice blend together. This summer I have been reading Aubrey Daniels “Bringing out the Best in People,” Donald Brown’s “Experiential Approach to Organization Development”, and plenty of great HBR articles and blog posts.

Cosco Shipping Freight Georges Island Boston

4. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, be a servant to all.  And service can only be Christian if you take the same attitude as Christ, in humility through prayer.  So many times I have forgotten basic lessons in Christianity, and it’s nice to be reminded of them through a very intense summer. It required more prayer than usual, and service outside of my comfort zone as well as finally, squarely, inside of it.  Although I haven’t always been sure of my spiritual gifts this summer I was able to exercise some of them in a very good way.

Georges Island Boston Ma Georges Island Boston Ma

5. Ginger Beer is where it’s at.  A few years ago I vowed to drink more liquor, which didn’t really happen.  In the last 3 weeks I’ve been working oh-so-hard to learn to make better drinks as part of my #30by30. Part of this, has just been understanding more about the basic components of drink making.  The other part has involved drinking plenty of Moscow Mules and Dark and Stormys.

How about you? Any lessons learned this summer?

Pictures from my Salem Harbor Mahi Mahi cruise and trip to Georges Island in the Boston Harbor last week – Another 30by30 crossed off the list.

Be sure so follow along with my #30by30 progress on facebook – I update a lot more there than here.

Flash Friday: No Really, It’s Finally Spring

What a difference 3 weeks makes in Massachusetts.

May 2nd. Trees. Buds. Fiddleheads.  Mostly brown brown brown.early spring leafless trees  spring buds  may fiddleheads

And May 24-26th. Full leaves. Ground Cover. Trees, glorious trees.  (and of course, mosquitoes 😉 )

ground cover  father son woods walk  spring in Glouceser, MA woods  plants alive


Last week’s Flash Friday: Zentangle

Show Up. Write. Edit.

Writing Process1

My dad always liked to quote that old nugget about “90% of life is just showing up.”

And my first employer prominently displayed the Chuck Swindoll quote about how 90% of life is your attitude.

Well guys. This is what I think the writing life looks like.

When it comes to the blogging life, I’d say a good chunk of that editing includes formatting.  Pictures are the right size. Aligned. Put your url on them. Spacing is correct. Links inserted. SEO attempted.

I’m in the last week of my semester of classes, working on a big group project.  We’ve hit the editing and formatting stage, so it looks like plenty more late nights for me.

But then again, I’ve got those books I decided to read to look forward to.

See you on the flip side.

28 Superlatives to Celebrate 28 Years

Yesterday was my birthday.

My husband baked me a nice dessert.


My son surprised me by being totally gung ho about kale chips.


A fair number of people wished me well on facebook, and I also went out to dinner.

And… I created this list of 28 Superlative events of the last year.

  1. Best New Project: Writing on Connect Shore with my friends.
  2. Best Baby Milestone: Even more than walking and dancing – I’ve enjoyed E’s ability to put together words – we had our first “conversation” last week!
  3. Best TV show I started watching: Once upon a Time.
  4. Farthest Trip: Philadelphia, PA – for a friend’s wedding 🙂
  5. Biggest Time Waste: Checkin’ Facebook, as usual.
  6. Best Life Hack(s): Google Docs
  7. Newest Food I tried: Tatsoi. (So weird!)
  8. Favorite new Go-To recipe: Turnip (yes Turnip!) Stew with Sweet Potatoes and CousCous.
  9. Newest Skill: Crochet-ing!
  10. Best Party: Ryan B.’s Awesome Christmas party (where I won a prize for ugliest sweater (dress.)
  11. Best Grad School Class: Management Theory. (Maybe I should have been a business major all those years ago?)
  12. Smartest Buy: (Tie) Little Seed by Elizabeth Mitchell, and a new-to-us car.
  13. Newest Hero: Activist Abby.  This facebook page totally makes me smile every time I see it pop up in the newsfeed.
  14. Biggest Fail: Trying to take 3 grad classes and work part time this spring.
  15. Newest Friend: My soon to be sister-in-law Wendy R!
  16. Best blogs I started reading:  For School: Management Ink: A blog about organizational research articles recently published. For Social Media Advice: Julia Campbell.  A great (and easy to read) resource for people trying to figure out the Social Media marketing scene (that’s me.)  For my own enjoyment:A lot of great new blogs this year… but – I love the collaboration at the Storyline Blog, curated by Donald Miller.
  17. Favorite blog post I wrote: Over at Connect Shore – 8 Things I think are true (but they aren’t!)
  18. First Speeding Ticket: Sadly, no more squeaky clean record for me.
  19. Proudest Moment(s): Got a Graduate Assistantship at Salem State for the ’12-’13 year! Ran a 5 Mile Race in May!
  20. 2 Most Important Life Realization: Physical organization can change your mood (so can time structuring, but I knew that): And prioritizing means knowing your core values and beliefs.
  21. Newest North Shore Green Space: Marblehead Audubon Bird Sanctuary (beautiful!)
  22. Best (and only?) Concert: Brown Bird. Banjos and Upright Bass ::swoon:: (Thanks Ellamy!)
  23. Most Surprising Event: Being Interviewed by Vera at TerraBlu Teams about my thoughts on Sustainability.
  24. Most Listened to (Non-Kid) Song: So Sleepy – by Fiona Apple
  25. Saddest Thing:My sister and her husband moved to Fitchburg, MA.  No more going over for lunch, less babysitting options –  BOO!
  26. Best North Shore Event: Ice Cream on the Salem Commons – blogged here at Connect Shore.
  27. Best Family Trip: DeCordova Sculpture Garden – a surprise trip completely planned by my husband.  Beautiful! Can’t wait to go again another time.
  28. Longest/Shortest Books I read: G.R.R. Martin’s Clash of Kings (926 Pages) / R.B. Munger’s My Heart, Christ’s Home. (32 “pages” It’s what most people would call a ‘pamphlet.’)