Lovely Ladies Luncheon League

January 13, 2014

Book Club January 2014 — A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

Filed under: All This Month...,Page Turners — LLLhost @ 12:56 am
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In December, we met at the new downtown Madison public library to explore the new facility (which is wonderful) and specifically to peruse the special book group collection. The library has over 190 kits of popular book selections available for book groups. The library makes it so easy to select your next book and will even  put all the copies you need in a canvas bag along with discussion questions and related information about the author in a folder for you.

As a group, we all gravitated to the latest Go Big Read selection for 2013,  A Tale for the Time Being. This is a powerful story is about the ways reading and writing can connect two people who will never meet. The story spans across the globe from Tokyo’s Electric Town to Desolation Sound, British Columbia.  A Tale for the Time Being begins with a diary, washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and it has a profound effect on the woman who discovers it.

A Tale for the Time Being

The 2013 Go Big Read

“A Tale for the Time Being” is a sprawling book that spans both time and the globe, but at heart, it’s a story about the relationship between a writer and a reader. UW News

So an interesting thing happened to us while reading our book this month. Although two people finished reading it, everyone wanted to savor the pages, to not rush and truly enjoy every page of the unfolding story.

Book Review

Since we extended our reading of A Tale for the Time Being another month, we were able to fully relish the characters and the intricate interwoven story they share. So many small details of culture and history along the way. Themes that are relatable to everyone. It was a joy to read, fresh and real, sometimes painful. All and all worth the extra time to savor. We me at the historic Greenbush Bar (or the Italian Workman’s Club as it is fondly known) for wine and a sampling of their spectacular pizza (arugula, tomatoes & goat cheese and one with sausage, very thin, crispy almost burnt crust but very tasty) and over the intimate crowd were able to share our appreciation for the meaning of time in our lives, relationships with our families, along with death & suicide, from a the fresh and modern perspective driven by a story of two characters bound through time.


September 4, 2013

Book Club September 2013 — Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear

Filed under: Page Turners — LLLhost @ 2:35 pm

This month we are reading Maisie Dobbs, as recommended by the owner of Madison’s new Independent bookstore Mystery to Me. For those lovers of murder, mayhem, intrigue and all around entertaining literature, this addition to Monroe street is a friendly & inviting place to explore mystery (and other genres). The owner,  Joanne Berg, is currently attempting to bring the author, Jacqueline Winspear, to the store which would be quite an event! In the future, she has many other exciting events planned so check out the latest news at

Several of our readers have already fallen in love and are reading further into the series. Should be a lively discussion. It’s very excited that we are planning to have the book group actually meet at the store!


‘My job is rather more complex than you might have imagined,’ says Maisie

Maisie Dobbs

“Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.”  —Author Jacqueline Winspear

Lovely Ladies Return

Filed under: All This Month... — LLLhost @ 1:00 pm

We have been on the journey of a lifetime together, the lovely ladies and I. Originally, I intended to use this blog as a place to record our journey day-to-day but in the midst of having an incredible trip to Italy, I decided to stop blogging, stop photographing and just live moment to moment on our amazing trip. Just drink in all the incredible beauty that is Italy. In the next few weeks, I will plan to recapture some our adventures through stories and photos and will share some of our favorites moment from along the way.

March 29, 2013

2013 Spring PEEP Show

Filed under: All This Month...,Food for Thought — LLLhost @ 11:06 am

Spring. Finally, after an endless winter, spring has arrived. In a time of renewal & rebirth, many celebrate Easter with its homage to stuffed bunnies & chicks, colored eggs, neon baskets,  jelly beans, chocolate & the enduring PEEPS. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the PEEP but I do look forward to inspired visionaries who, like great LEGO artists, see something special in the humble PEEP. Each year, the Washington Post hosts a diorama contest, a review of the previous year through PEEPS.  I’ve borrowed a few images from the Post to share and encourage everyone to take a closer look at this years clever entries. There is something for everyone to smile about & appreciate. Happy spring!! Happy peeping!!

The Washington Post Peeps Contest

Rest in Peeps Winner 2013

“Rest in Peeps” Winner 2013

Peep Pope Mourns Twinkie Loss

DETAIL: Peep Pope Mourns Twinkie Loss


and a few favorites……

Peepton Abbey

Peepton Abbey

Life of Peep

Life of Peep

Peep Art

Peep Art

Zero Peep Thirty

Zero Peep Thirty

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Peep

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Peep

Dispeepable Congress

Dispeepable Congress

Pope Peep

Pope Peep

We the Peeps

We the Peeps

Peep Floyd

Peep Floyd

March 22, 2013

Ménage à trios les chats

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 1:31 pm

Never in a million years did I ever think I would become “that” cat lady. How does someone end up with a house full of felines? I’ve always had an affinity for them, but generally one at a time. My cat of 20 years, Max had recently passed away and I was still considering if I could bring another into my home.

Then I met Smokey.

Household of three cats

Ménage à trios les chats

It will be four summers now since she claimed me as I visited my friend June in Door county. Smokey was a feral cat who actually enjoyed the company of humans. Though wild, she would follow June all across her yard— which was immense—as if curious about everything she did and could even be helpful in some detached feline fashion. She never wanted to be picked up or to come indoors but provided such a sweet company for June she was, and is special.

It was August, very hot and humid, but fall was just around the corner and, all to soon after that, winter. June worried about what would happen to this friendly feral as she prepared for her annual journey to winter in Florida. Worst of all, Smokey was pregnant. So pregnant that her belly scraped the ground. How would she and a litter of kittens make it though a Wisconsin winter without human help? All of the shelters were overrun with cats, over a hundred when I checked the nearest so they would not take more. With so many, they have no choice but to euthanize them if not adopted quickly. No room for this pregnant mama.

Then it happened. As I sat outside, Smokey would join me in the sun, follow me through the field and walk me to the door each night. With every passing day, she would keep me close as if she knew my weakness for with cats would save her from the fate of some overcrowded shelter. The decision was made the day she gave birth. As we sat together, she on one chair, me on the other, I watched her stomach rise and fall, the contractions growing more frequent, I realized we had bonded somehow. I just knew,  I can’t really explain it. Even pregnant, ready to drop those kittens, she wouldn’t leave my side. I had to walk her to the barn—barely able to—and with every step, knew she would be coming home with me and that all her kittens would find good homes.

After a successful birth, she and the kittens remained in Door county until they were old enough to be picked up and moved to Madison. June took great care to make sure everyone was healthy and as soon as old enough, given shots and spayed and neutered, as responsible people do for feral cats. By the time moving day arrived, Smokey had started feeding them meat,  snakes, mice, she was such a good provider though she herself preferred the food June left out for her near the house. The kittens were getting enough milk and meat to grow strong and healthy.

Collecting them was challenge. Returning to Door county I was able to catch the shy one that no one had handled before but simply could not find the last of the four kittens. Hours went by and knowing that the kitten would certainly die without its mother, we still had no choice but to take the rest of the family and leave the kitten behind. Smokey walked into my tiny apartment with her other kittens as if she lived there all her life. She immediately used the litter box and settled the babies into a cozy box under a large table. Once fed and asleep, she started to frantically explore the apartment. Every day she searched for something making these mournful noises. She would attend to the other kittens but everyday I witnessed her searching and searching my tiny apartment, unwilling to give up.

June called a week later. They had found the kitten! Starving, but alive. My niece drove three hours there and back to retrieve the lost kitten and bring him home to Smokey. If ever we needed a video camera it would have been to document the homecoming of Smokey’s prodigal son. Unbelievable. The joy in both hers and the kittens body language couldn’t have been more obvious…playing, licking, rolling, snuggling, purring (something Smokey had never done before). She never let that kitten stray far from her side again, as if to say, I will not lose you again.

Sharing a small space with a litter of kittens is, well, all-consuming. Quite the handful. I thought, when it was all over, that Smokey and perhaps one kitten would remain with me. Our lost lad, Leo, eventually went home to my niece, and the tiniest tough guy, Spencer to my mum. As for me, I ended up with an extra, though I often say two-and-one-half instead of three. Smokey is with me of course, she is truly extraordinary and so little effort to live with I think of her as the one-half.. Lily, is a beauty with perfect ears and was the kitten I intended to keep though she is all sass and sheer attitude, and finally Luka, the runt of the litter and forever shy guy, who I was the first person to hold. He is huge now but still afraid of everyone and everything except for me so I just couldn’t let him go. They are still feral in so many ways, they don’t like to be held, to cuddle, they run from large people or heavy footsteps. Smokey usually gives me ten minutes of devotion when I come home but is quickly off to do her won thing (although there to help if I am busy) But, they are definitely house cats now. Only Smokey will venture outside with me in the nice weather. She will visit the backyard flowers and help me hang laundry, however, when it’s time to go in and I call her, she will quickly come running back inside,  into my crowded little space to rejoin her Ménage à trios, (as in household of three).

March 21, 2013

Figaro, Figaro, Figaro….

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 10:32 pm
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What a sweet boy!


January 5, 2013

New Italian Cookbook

Filed under: All This Month...,Food for Thought,Italy — LLLhost @ 9:16 pm

In honor of our upcoming trip my sister gave me a copy of Francis Mayes cookbook, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen. We immediately set to work on sampling recipes. The first of many is in the photo below…a beautiful red pepper tart with a nutty parmesan flavor and caramelized onions over a bed of zucchini held together with farm fresh eggs.


Everything in the book is enhanced with wine, cheese and love. Simple flavors where the ingredients shine.

A few other early favorites from the book that we already sampled are…clams with lemon & white wine over spaghetti (sans garlic and still fabulous I might add), shrimp with orecchiette and delectable poached pears in red wine. I look forward to experimenting with the ladies and preparing for our cooking class in Tuscany!

December 9, 2012

Annual Cookie Extravaganza

Filed under: Food for Thought — LLLhost @ 12:00 am
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Today was our annual cookie exchange. We make a few batches of traditional Spritz cookies together (lemon & almond) and exchange other tasty treats for a beautiful plate of homemade goodies to take home. Before we can work the dough though, there has to be a delicious meal, usually soup and bread to keep us warm & allow for conversational catch-up. Once full, we have the strength to squeeze the spritz press and get started.

This year we shared curry lentil, turkey chili and a bacon spagettiOs ala joe. An amazing peppery bread from the farmers market (from an italian bakery in Stoughton called Cabibbos) and a sourdough with cheese and fig jam.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Then it was on to the art of the spritz. Getting the dough to the proper temperature, the press working smoothly, the decorations just right, we all have a hand in these yearly delights.


Pressing the dough onto the baking sheets

Art of Decorating

Art of Decorating

Cookie Flower Art

Flower Spritz on display

Recipes will follow in another post soon….Enjoy!

December 4, 2012

Why Cat’s Read?

Filed under: Feline Adoration — LLLhost @ 10:01 am
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Felines Honor ALA Read Posters

Every year the American Library Association hosts a Celebrity READ Poster. Many small libraries like MERIT on the UW campus will hold a similar week where they set up a camera shoot for people to come in and create their own personalized version of a READ poster to encourage and promote reading. Many bring props, sometimes their pets, infusing their personality into each posters which is then displayed in the library.

Obviously reading is central to the Lovely Ladies League and thought I would share my own version of the poster. Unable to bring the feline family in to the library, I took several photos, merged them together added a colorful wash background and voilà! The books were gifts from friends and are hysterical if you have a chance to view them. Women, cats and books…hmmmm.

Why Cats Read Poster

December 3, 2012

Holiday Season Kicks Off with “A Madison Symphony Christmas”

Filed under: All This Month...,I Hear Music — LLLhost @ 11:27 pm
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The first weekend in December means it’s time for the traditional holiday concert at the Overture in Madison. Young and old join together as the Madison Symphony and Symphony Chorus fill the Overture Hall with joyful holiday revelry. This year, the special guests included tenor David Portillo (he gave be goosebumps!) from Texas and mezzo-soprano Emily Fons (a Wisconsin Native), the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir and the Madison Youth Choirs.

It’s hard to believe that we could have attended so many over the years. We were trying to count them and though we can’t be certain it might actually be many as 19 years!

However you may celebrate—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or simply time off of work—the music of the season can still be spectacular. This year was fantastic, or maybe it’s the company I keep.

The Madison Symphony in Red Santa Hats

Tenor David Portillo

An Angel Over the Organ

I wish I could share the real thing. There is nothing like the way so many voices fill a concert hall with such amazing acoustics. These are a few samples of the first half from across utube.

NEALE (arr RUTTER):  O Come,  Oh come Immanuel
HANDEL:  For Unto Us a Child is Born from the Messiah
PIETO YON:  Gesu Bambino
NEALE: Good King Wenceslas
SCHUBERT:  Gloria in Excelsis Deo and Cum Sancto Spiritu
HANDEL:  Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah  

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