So: cupcakes, ketchup, catch up

I made breakfast cupcakes for my coworkers yesterday. We trade off bringing breakfast. Some people buy it, usually from Taco Cabana (breakfast tacos) or McDonald’s (Egg McMuffins), but I always love it when they make it. It’s always more yummy and more inventive.

Some people really go all out. We’ve had omelette bars, breakfast taco bars, panini bars, pancakes. We’ve also had kiddie cereals, leftover pizza and beer, and WalMart donuts.

Throughout my work career and amongst my friends, I’m known as a cupcake fan and cupcake baker. Any excuse, I’m pulling out cute papers and whipping up a batch.

So, I thought it would be funny to make breakfast cupcakes.

Here’s the recipe:

I made 2 batches, first bacon as guided by the recipe:

For future reference, it takes a whole pack of Oscar Myer bacon. And I didn’t even know refrigerated hash browns existed. I added some chives from my herb patch as sprinkles.

Then a no meat version for my veggie coworkers:

I used southwestern hash browns which were spicy and delicious.

Everyone enjoyed them–the moms thought it was pretty kid friendly and good for a crowd. I would definitely make them again but experiment with the flavors.

Egg mixtures

Potatoes baking

Filling the cups

I have a handy carrier (I told you I was hard core when it comes to cupcakes. Bruce got it for me as a gift.) that I used to transport them to work.

The trays. This model holds three dozen. It’s also good for carrying cakes.

After all that pre-work cooking, I decided relaxation was needed and picked up dinner at a nearby Thai place. I was really hoping it would be great since they deliver to our neighborhood, but it was not. We’ll keep researching, but it’s painfully apparent that we’re not getting Toronto-quality Thai delivered to our house any time soon.

Still someone else did the cooking.

After dinner, Bruce and I watched The Buddha finally. We missed it when it was first run and recorded it this week. I really enjoyed it–a little enlightenment and armchair traveling for a Friday night.

This morning we woke up to beautiful sage flowers. This variety of sage only blooms when it rains:



After our long weekend dog walk, Bruce made breakfast and put out ketchup from one of the local hamburger chains:


We have never tried their food even though we’ve lived here 6 years. So after our errands and morning chores, we decided to have a rare burger lunch. And as several of our friends said, it was great for fast food. But definitely only to be eaten occasionally.


After lunch, I received an email from a college friend I haven’t seen since the mid-90s. She’ll be in Dallas for work this week. Unfortunately, I’ll be in North Carolina.

That’s ok, we made a plan: I’ll pick her up at the airport and bring her over to the Mortroski Mid-century for dinner tomorrow night so she can meet Bruce and the Gs. That way if she needs help or gets lonely, she’ll know who to call.

Today’s okra harvest:

I’m going to pickle it in the morning.

And your gratuitous weekend dog shot, this time of Godiva:



So: DC pictures

Today I took a few photos in DC while out looking around a bit and was lucky to visit with a college friend, Laura from Ps Qs & Ws, her husband George, and their lovely and ultra-snuggly golden doodles Maggie and Reagan.

I hadn’t seen Laura in a million years and it was awesome to spend 7 hours catching up (sorry George). We covered a lot if ground but we’ll have to get together again soon.

It was an excellent day, so much better than yesterday, thanks to Clare, Laura, George, Maggie, and Reagan.

Here are a few photos:

Cherry blossoms

Lincoln Memorial

Mrs. Obama’s kitchen garden

White House bee hive

Poor animals, exhausted from entertaining

So: Valentine’s Eve confession


February love letters for

On this Valentine’s Day eve, I’m going to share a big secret with you: I write love letters. They’re to someone other than my husband, Bruce.

I write them frequently too. Usually once a month, but several times a month if I’m asked. And sometimes, when the spirit moves me, I write them and leave them places. In those annoying pockets on an airplane. In restaurants. In a dressing room. In a magazine I abandon at the airport. In a hotel lobby. Sometimes even at work. And I always have some sort of notecard or paper plus my trusty assortment of Sharpies on hand for emergencies. Shhh. Please don’t tell or you’ll blow my cover.

You see, I’m a secret (love letter) agent. I enlisted back in September during a typical dining al desko lunch break. I watched a TED talk featuring a woman named Hannah Brencher. She founded an organization of love letter writers called So I joined it.

Once a month, Hannah’s team asks me (and scores of other people all over the globe) to share words of love, hope, support, friendship, inspiration, motivation, and care with people we don’t even know and will never meet.

Here’s what Hannah says about her organization:

“We’re going to tell you that we write and mail love letters, handwritten love letters, to strangers in need all over the world. We’re going to invite you to request a love letter for someone in your life who needs one. And we’re going to insist that you step out of your own shoes of Comfort & join us. You are going to think we are a bit crazy. A tad loopy. But you’ve been looking for a website that leaks love all this time… so we aren’t worried you’ll leave us.”

You’ll probably want to check out on your own if you want more details. No point in cutting and pasting their content here.

I’d like to say I’m not in this for myself and that my heart is completely pure and selfless while I write. But it’s not. What I really liked about joining was that it was an easy way to take a few minutes out of my busy month and do something nice for someone who really needs to a boost.

Selfishly, I usually write the love letters during lunch at work when my day is going particularly wonky and I need to remind myself of what’s really important. On those days when I need to breathe. When I need to think and not speak.

Perhaps if I was a smoker, I’d take a smoke break. Instead, it’s a writing break. Taking those few minutes to pen some encouraging words and tell someone that they matter and that things will get better for them, makes me feel better too.

Writing the letters has also made me more aware of the power of the pen. Of course, people can write terrible, hateful things. Things that they’d never in a million years say to that person’s face. But you can also write wonderful things. Loving things. Hopeful things. Uplifting things. Joyful things. Comforting things.

So on this Valentine’s Day eve, I ask you to do one thing for me tomorrow. You love birds might not have a lot of time, but do it anyway. Even if your heart is hard because romance hasn’t gone your way lately, go about your day with love.

When you pick up your morning coffee, thank your barista with a smile.

Greet your coworkers like you’d want to be greeted by them.

Hug your kids and furry family members extra tight.


And on this silly Hallmark holiday, maybe consider leaving a little anonymous note where someone who really needs a boost can find it. You’d make someone’s day. And yours too.


PS: Please don’t worry about Bruce. He will get a real “from the wife” Valentine love note sometime tomorrow even though he hates this made up event. Remember, I like writing.

So: time stands still

So after an action-packed 2 days of entertaining pretty pretty princesses, Uncle Bruce and I hopped the Pacific Surfliner to Irvine.

If you’re ever in Southern California and you don’t want to deal with traffic on those infamous freeways, I recommend Amtrak highly. You’ll sit back and relax. You can read. Listen to music. Enjoy refreshments. Treat yourself to stunning ocean and mountain views as the train chugs along. You’ll arrive at your destination and feel like you’ve had a mini-vacation.

Waiting at our destination was our long time pal Shane. Bruce has known Shane slightly longer, although only maybe a year. He is our perpetual bachelor friend, the one with beautiful bikini-clad girlfriends galore. He has many So Cal dude toys like motorcycles and jet skis. He goes to clubs and underground parties. His life is always story-worthy and after dinner with him your stomach hurts from all the laughing you’ll do.

Shane is the reason why Bruce and I met at all. Through a very loose introduction, our Southern California pal gave a guy in Toronto and a gal in Northern California a reason to chat on the phone, write letters and fall in love. If we would have had a best man and maid of honor at our wedding, Shane would have been it.

Bruce met Shane on a Contiki tour of Europe. Yes, the bus tour infamous dragging hungover 18-34 year olds past all the famous sites in record time. Shane and I met at CES when I was working in a booth. He was quite mean to me, trying to stump me with all sorts of technical questions he thought I wouldn’t know (wrong!). He wouldn’t leave me alone, but later sent an apology package filled with t-shirts and stickers from his company.

For a bit more than 20 years, we’ve all been friends. And while its easy to keep in touch via Facebook with pithy comments, photos and likes, it’s not the same as a conversation over dinner.

At Shane’s favorite Thai restaurant we laughed a lot. We talked about how our jobs were going, we heard about Shane’s love life/upcoming guys dirt biking weekend/crazy ex-girlfriends who still pop up from time to time.

And for a moment time stood still. The moment has repeated itself many times over the years. Sometimes all three of us are there. Sometimes it’s just two. But when dinner’s over and the waitress is eager to get us out of there so she can flip the table, it makes me happy that such a random connection endures after all these years. And while I was sad to say goodbye, I know we’ll all see each other again, perhaps randomly while traveling for work or maybe a more lengthy planned visit. With Shane one never knows.