Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I haven't been here for awhile. That's because I've been deeply engrossed with a project--completing my thesis to meet the final requirements for my Master's Degree! A little over a year and a half ago I began a program at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. I had been researching several different programs for quite sometime, including online programs, and hadn't seen a program that I felt met my needs. The program I chose was part of Warner's ADP (Adult Degree Program), was accelerated, met one evening a week, and followed a cohort model. Most importantly, the program was called, Master's in Management and Organizational Leadership. This was a less specific degree than the Educational Leadership programs I had considered, but not as broad as my earlier attempt at a masters in Public Affairs. Perfect! So in February 2008, I met with a group of 18 people at Warner's East Campus. A few of that group didn't finish with us, but 13 of us will receive our degrees at a ceremony in December! And what a smart, wonderful group of people that I have had the privilege of knowing!
My family and friends have been right by my side throughout this journey and I couldn't have done it without their support. For the last 18 months, my schooling has taken precendent over vacations, dinners out, family events, shopping trips, and just about everything! Thank you for your patience, Dwain, Sara, Brynn, and Debbie most of all! Yesterday, the final group of 5 of us presented our theses for approval and all 5 were approved. A little celebration happened at a neat little Mexican restaurant called Dingo's. Its at 46th and Hawthorne in SE PDX. Thanks guys, it's been quite a ride!
Below is the dedication and acknowledgment from my thesis as one way of saying "Thanks" to everyone who supported me through this journey. Each and every one of you has a piece of my heart

This thesis is dedicated to my husband, Dwain, my daughters, Sara, Cara, & Brynn, and the countless friends and other family members who made it possible for me to enroll in, attend and persevere through the intense months of my master’s program. Without their love and support, all I have accomplished here would not have been possible.


To my awe-inspiring team, the ‘Couv Crew—I thank you for being there without fail every step of the way.
Jamie, your constant calm, cool, and collected demeanor kept me grounded and on track through a great many rough moments. Your talents as the class party organizer, costume maker, and provider of food made our time together more enjoyable.
Michelle, your sense of humor, willingness to open your heart and your warmth and friendship have inspired me to do my best work. Thank you for leaning on me and letting me lean on you, too.
Christine, your ability to get to the heart of the matter and keep the group on track when we’d rather be doing other things has kept me focused during many group meetings. Your work habits and single-mindedness have kept me motivated and your drive for excellence created a higher standard for me.
To my instructors, most especially Dr. Roger Martin and Dr. Toni Pauls—thank you for believing in me when I was having a hard time believing in myself. Thank you for your patience, flexibility and sense of humor. You certainly needed it with this group.
To my friends—thanks for being available when I had a sliver of time to spend with you, and not being upset when I did not.
To my husband—thanks for your patience with my need for privacy, quiet, and for never complaining about what I was feeding you.
And finally, to my classmates, Brad, Jamie, Michelle, Christine, Joslyn, Sue, Jon, Scott, Jennifer, Andrea, Simone, Emily, and Donelle—thank you for your passion, dedication, humor, curiosity, sense of fun, and friendship—it has made this journey joyful, unique, and downright remarkable.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chili Cook Off

I had heard about a chili cook-off that an organization I belong to has every year and told my friend Debbie that I might like to do that. So of course, when it comes up, she called me and told me she had signed me up for it! So on Sunday I went to the grocery store for all the fixin's and yesterday spent the better part of the day cooking and tasting. Usually I make vegetarian chili, not because I'm a vegetarian, but because it is really, really good chili that has evolved over the years. My better half advised me that I probably shouldn't make the vegetarian version for anyone outside the household. I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or not ;) I was instructed to bring 5 or 6 quarts and I don't normally make that large of a quantity, so I will give you ingredients only, not amounts.

Not-Quite Vegetarian Chili
Turkey sausage (the kind that looks like keilbasa)
Kidney beans (for the large pot, I used dry, but for a normal batch I used canned)
Canned whole tomatoes
Canned chipotles in adobo sauce
Canned tomato sauce
Garbanzo beans
Sweet onions, sauteed
Red, yellow & orange bell peppers
Dried rosemary

Place the beans in a large pot and set aside.
Chop and saute the turkey sausage, remove it from the pan and add the onion, chopped, and saute until soft and clear. Add sausage & onion to the pot of beans. Chop and saute the bell peppers, also add these to the beans. Process the canned tomatoes with the chipotles and add to beans. Add tomato sauce and water until consistency is good. Season with a bit of rosemary, cinnamon and sugar. These will balance the heat of the chipotles, especially if you get it a little too hot! That's it! Easy--if you want to make it vegetarian, just leave out the sausage. The sausage gives it a rather smoky flavor that is nice.
To serve the two of us, with plenty of leftovers I use: 1/2 turkey sausage,2 cans of kidney beans, 1/2 can garbanzos, 1 smallish onion and one bell pepper. Adjust spices to taste.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bread Salad

Bread salad is a nice accompaniment for a light,

easy, weeknight dinner. I STILL have patio tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse, and fresh basil in my kitchen garden, so last night I made this simple little salad to go along with oven-roasted halibut with cheese sauce. The bread salad didn't sound very appealing, but is very tasty. Begin with a few small tomatoes and an english cucumber--cut them into bite-size chunks, add a handful of fresh mozzarella pearls, or cut similarly sized chunks of fresh mozzarella. Add some fresh basil

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lack of planning

Sometimes I go to the idea cupboard and it is bare. Last night was a good example. With a hungry husband at my elbow, I rooted around and found a few staples in the freezer and pantry and came up with a meal that sated our hunger but would inspire no one. Frozen chicken breasts, frozen baby brussel sprouts and baby yukon gold potatoes. On another day I might have found a new chicken recipe or grilled the chicken, and added some fresh herbs to the potatoes, but on this day, I had little left to give, so I breaded the chicken with my old stand-by, Krusteaz, and threw it in the oven, added a little butter and balsamic and zapped the sprouts, and dropped the potatoes in a pot of boiling water. The outcome certainly wasn't a particularly pretty meal, or one that left us making sounds of pleasure, but the meal was a good example of what happens in many households at the end of a long day. It is likely that different circumstances of the day might have led to a different result, but I had a long, full day working on my thesis, and didn't have much brain power left to come up with something more interesting. There are a few hardy herbs still growing in my backdoor garden, along with a few tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse, so I will attempt to make good use of them over the next few days. My lovely eldest daughter and I were discussing the problem of "meal inspiration" today and agreed that sometimes meals get thrown together in the "5 o'clock" panic! She had the good idea of setting up a meal plan for a week or a month, thereby making life a bit easier when 5 o'clock rolls around, like it just keeps doing. Of course, with a new baby in the house, she has all the more reason to stay organized and on top of things.