Project Toad: Help us Create an Online Dating Profile…Pretty Please?

“I try not to drool when I eat in public, and I don’t spit my food when I’m having a conversation.”

Truly, friends, this is the response Jake gave me when he was asked to find his 5 best qualities that a woman may admire. He went on to tell me that, while finding admirable qualities in others was easy, he really struggles to list 5 strengths that someone else may value in him.

My response? “Perfect start, Jake! Looks like you were raised with a knowledge of good manners. We are on a roll!” Honestly, he also has a pretty good sense of humor also.

Following our little pep-talk, Jake was able to complete his homework assignment in preparation for designing his Online Dating Profile. He has a little bit of insight in how to tackle the personality profile now, because he has a level of self-awareness.

When asked about himself, Jake says he…

  • Generally doesn’t drool
  • Keeps himself in shape
  • Is loyal
  • Can be intelligent enough to know to use a spell-checker before sending an email and sometimes even intelligent enough to know to check for the correct tense
  • Remains open-minded and always wants to learn and improve both personally and professionally

So if I were to translate this back to Jack, I would say:

Jake is…..

  • Well mannered and respectful
  • Physically fit
  • Loyal
  • A Life-Learner
  • Open-minded
  • Is conscientious and able use Spell-Check before hitting Send

So he actually gave me 6 positive qualities – even better.

And for admirable qualities he looks for in others, he gave me these:

  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks while remaining calm
  • Patient and even-keeled
  • The ability to do the right thing even when it’s the hard and unpopular thing to do

Which tells me that he…

  • Needs a woman who thrives with spontaneity
  • Hopes to share patience and understanding
  • Values integrity and self-respect

I’d say we have a great start to who he is and what he is looking for in his Princess Charming. And Jake seems like a pretty great guy, right?

Perfect! We can move on to the next exercise.

Jake’s next homework assignment involves his interests. I’ll warn you, friends, he is going to be a little frustrated with this next task. He is excited to get a profile up so he can start winking, but I’m not allowing him to be so hasty. He needs to know what he wants to say, and who he wants to attract when he goes live on Match.

Jake’s list of good qualities now needs to be complimented by the type of hobbies and activities he enjoys. He took quite an interest in my earlier post that discusses creating the anti-profile, so we will use this concept as a foundation for building his How about we…. section of the All About Jake page.

Let’s find out what he absolutely would never do so we can start leveraging those Open-Minded Life Learner qualities that he claims to own. So, my toad kissing friends, here is where I ask for your help. Can you start throwing out some hobbies or interests that you enjoy? Maybe even share your idea for your favorite date?

I can promise that Jake will be reading each of your suggestions, and he’ll mull them over one at a time. This will help to open up his mind to enjoyable activities that don’t involve school plays or Pizza Night at Chuckie Cheeses.

So, how about it, friends? Help a Fellow Toad Kisser out? What are some activities you enjoy – on your own or sharing with others?

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

The Mystery of the Grape – What’s in a Name?

Good morning to all of my wine enthusiasts. I’d love to share with you how to read a wine label in response to your interest in the 5 S’s of wine. I’ve had a few provocative questions since from that post, so I’d love to share more information.

Jake from Project Toad wants to be able read the wine list when he starts meeting women through online dating. My brother is studying wine to be knowledgeable for business functions. Beverly – heck, she wants to get more out of her tastings 😉

Today, let’s start walking through the label. Knowing the label may help you feel more confident when picking out a bottle for a hostess gift, a date, or even business dinner.

Personally, I think the most interesting part of the label lies in the name of the wine (not to be confused with name of the vineyard). Traditionally, European wines are named for their appellations (growing regions) while American wines are named after the varietal (the kind of the grape).

For example, if you would like to bring a French wine to your hostess for a Thanksgiving dinner, you might look for a Red Burgundy. The Burgundy region of France is famous for the Pinot Noir grape. This varietal is rich yet delicate, so the Pinot Noir is a lovely with turkey.

If, however, you prefer to bring along an American wine, perhaps look for a Pinot Noir from Oregon. See how the same grape is named differently based on the appellation? The wine growing regions bring different characteristics based on many factors: the soil, the humidity, the amount of sun exposure, and even the slope of the hills in the regions.

Learning the characteristics in the European regions that drive the naming may be more than we want to tackle with Thanksgiving being so close. Let’s take a peek instead at the American wines. Read the label for specific growing regions.

A wine that lists Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley as the region will be more concentrated than a wine that names Northern California as the appellation. This is because to list Napa as the region, the grapes need to all be grown in that region.

However, a Northern California wine may use grapes from a few growing regions within Northern California. The more generic the label’s appellation, the wider the growing region. Make sense?

Now the real lesson – while the wine from Napa may be considered a higher quality of wine due to concentration, this does not mean the bottle of Cabernet that you grab from Northern California is any less enjoyable.

Remember, wine is subjective. Paying $50 for a bottle doesn’t guarantee that you will like the wine any better than paying $15 for a bottle. With a little bit of information, you can start to make informed purchases. Take your time to get to know what you like. You can find good labels in every price point.

And for Jake or anyone else wanting to learn about wine to enrich your dating life, don’t waste the date by throwing out every tidbit you learn about wine. Don’t feel threatened by the guy one table over who sniffs and says,

“Oh Buffy, how reminiscent this Merlot is of that Cuban cigar you brought me from your adventures in Panama. The tobacco does mingle so perfectly with the wild blackberry nuance.” He is showing off!

Instead, offer a quick comment on the wine, and then spend your time learning about the man or woman sitting across from you. After all, that person should be the most interesting topic at the table if you hope to get a second date.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

The Toad-Kisser’s Guide to Wine: Your 5 “S”s of Tasting

Hello, fellow toad-kissers. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten a bit rusty in my wine tasting knowledge. I used to have a small wine tasting business where hosts would invite me into their home to teach friends about wine and food. While PC and I enjoy wine together, I’ve forgotten many of the fundamentals in the art. Yesterday, my autumn wine club shipment arrived from Paoletti Winery, so I thought I might start brushing up on my wine etiquette. While I do, how about if we learn together. A little bit of wine knowledge comes in handy in the dating scene.

When we taste wine, we enliven our senses. We use the 5 S’s.

See – Wines have vivid colors, but when you see you look for quality. The ideal wine glass is clear instead of tinted for visual clarity. Hold your glass up against your white napkin and take in the color. If the wine appears cloudy or murky, sending the bottle back is appropriate. If you see gorgeous, clear red or gold move on to the next step.

Swirl – Why do we swirl? We swirl to get oxygen moving through the wine that has been corked up tight since bottling. We swirl to awaken the flavors. Have you been intimidated by watching an expert create a beautiful whirlpool by swirling the stem? So have I, so allow me to give you a perfectly appropriate cheater. Holding by the stem, set your glass on the table for stability. Place the stem between your middle and your pointer fingers, and move the glass in a circular motion. Gorgeous whirlpool! This is a great way to start knowing how the rotation feels to get that gorgeous whirlpool effect. In time, you will swirl like the experts too.

Sniff – Don’t be shy – get your nose in the glass. Absorb the aromas of chocolate, tobacco, pear, or berry. Smell is subjective. Finding blackberry in Cabernet doesn’t mean the winemaker added blackberries, and it doesn’t mean you are wrong if someone else smells raspberry. It means that the scent in winemaker’s artistry reminds you of the that fragrance. The earth, the vine and the season brought the berry flavor out of the Cabernet grape, and you were able to recognize the subtleties. This is a great conversation-starter for your date.

Finally, Sip – Hooray! Get a hearty sip. Allow the wine to coat the different areas of your mouth. Is the wine sweet and fruity? How about dry – does the sip leave you thirsty? That is my favorite – a deep, dry red.

Now the final “S”. I’ll bet you think I’m going to say spit., right? Heavens, No. Savor the excitement as the wine awakens your taste buds. Swish it around your mouth. Feel the weight as it lingers. Would you describe the wine as heavy? Bold? Light? Maybe delicate? This is known as the body.

Enjoy the wine’s finish – this is the taste that is left behind for you to enjoy – the aftertaste. How long does the finish linger? This is known as the length. The longer the finish, the higher the quality of wine. If the experience leaves you as soon as you swallow, you might comment that the wine was rather flat.

Most importantly, wine is subjective. You don’t need to know how to choose an expensive label to enjoy the grape. With a few basics, the mysteries of wine become intriguing rather than daunting. And the vulnerability of learning to share wine can be quite appealing to someone who wants to get to know a little more about you.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

Kitchen Blunder transformed to Wonder: Southwest Sausage and Peppers

Oh, for the love of MUFAs! I miss being in my kitchen. For the last week and a half I’ve been resigned to bed rest. I’ve been at the mercy of the men in my household to bring me food and drink. Just try getting someone to bring you a glass of Merlot to wash down your Percocet – impossible!

The care and feeding of Heidi Lee has no doubt been a challenge for PC as well as for my son, Cole. I love to cook and I can be a little picky/snobby with my flavors. My poor PC has been a bachelor for 46 years and has gotten, how shall we say…. well, very creative with his culinary skills. I was able to detour him in his misguided attempt to slush canned tuna and applesauce together onto a plate by strategically requesting that he make a pot of his Chili. A big pot goes a long way, and every guy in the world swears by his own Chili recipe.

Yes, I’m sharing this strategy with you proactively should you ever find yourself in my position. Play it safe and ask for the chili.

Cole, on the other hand, brings me candy bars and licorice. Good kid.

Lately, though, our gallons of chili has begun to run dry. I find myself moving around a little better though. Last night I hobbled off my lazy duff and finally got back into my kitchen. A bit of a struggle scooting between the stove and the refrigerator, wearing my orthopedic boot makes me feel like I’ve got a 10 lb bag of flour strapped to my leg. No worries, though. I was successful.

I had been craving sausage and peppers for a while, and I could almost smell the fresh basil and garlic dancing around my drugged up nose for over a week. I had grabbed Italian Sausage from my freezer earlier and set it out to thaw.

When it came time to cook, I teetered my way through my cupboard pulling out all of my standard ingredients. As I grabbed the sausage to begin slicing, I realized my challenge. The Italian sausage I thought I had grabbed turned out to be a Southwest smoked chicken sausage I had never used before. Ok, so a change of flavors on the fly. Cool, I’ve got this. Basil and garlic became chipotle chili powder and smoky cumin – throw in a little paprika to boot….Voila! Perfection.

My hodge-podge of a throw together turned into a delectable variation on the traditional Italian Sausage & Peppers. I’d love to share it with you as I am certain I stayed within the requirements to make it a Flat Belly Mufa Meal. The best thing – this meal was my first adventure with a new favorite ingredient – Johnsonville Chicken Sausage with 50% Less Fat! (coupon) I can tell you the sausage was full of flavor. I was very impressed, and PC couldn’t tell that it was actually chicken.

Now to the meat of my post 😉 A little bit of kitchen magic:

Southwest Sausage & Peppers

  • 2 tbsps olive oil (Mufa)
  • 1 pkg Chicken Sausage with Cheese & Chipotle Peppers, cut into bite sized slices
  • 1 large yellow pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1 large orange pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 2 large green peppers, cut in thin strips
  • 1 med yellow onion, cut in thin strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (you can substitute with minced garlic in a jar if you want)
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup dry red wine – Leave enough in the bottle for drinking. You be the judge.
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (I believe these cans are ~ 4 oz)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti, prepared

Pour a 5 oz glass of the red wine – set aside for drinking. See, now I’m back in charge!

Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, using a 5 quart kettle, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add sausage. Sauté until lightly browned. Add in the vegetables and the garlic, and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes. You want to keep the crispness of these peppers in the sauce, so don’t over-cook.

Enjoy a sip or two of wine and again, set aside. You need to pay attention to adding the tomato paste so don’t let the wine become the activity for right now. If you do this next step right, you get an added surprise in your meal of a rich, sweetened tomato sauce – mess up and your paste turns the whole dish burnt and bitter. So no gulping down the fruit of the vine just yet, k?

Add the tomato paste to the meat & veggie mixture and toss until the paste begins to coat through. You will begin to see the paste start to get a little gloss to it – this is the time to add in the wine and stir until the paste and wine begin to blend. Perfect! Nicely done.

Throw in the rest of the ingredients – not art to this part. Just be careful to toss gently through your sauce rather than to vigorously disturb your lovely veggies.

Set aside to simmer for about 20 minutes – and enjoy that glass of red while the aroma starts to fill your house. Be sure to offer a glass to your own Prince Charming while you are at it.

With about 10 minutes left, remember to start your spaghetti (my favorite wheat pasta). Add a little salt into the boiling water, and add enough of the noodles to feed your family. You may even want to prepare a little extra to take leftovers to work for lunch tomorrow. This meal tasted is even better today.

Guidelines for serving size to make this a Mufa Meal – 1/2 cup of pasta and 3 oz of sausage (1 link is 3 oz). You’re getting your Mufa from the olive oil. However, the wine throws the allowed calories off track – be sure to refer to The Flat Belly Diet recommendations about adding alcohol with a meal if you are attempting the diet plan.

Stop back by and let me know if you liked this recipe. Also, feel free to share a variation if you come up with any.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

A Tribute for our Veterans

Hi to All! Please allow me to write this story in gratitude to my PC and to all of our Nation’s Veterans. My PC, you see, served on a submarine during the Cold War in the 80s. I am fortunate to be surrounded by stories of military respect and admiration, and I am often honored to be able to decorate VFW Floats for local parades.

Crew of the USS Aspro, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 1988

I am proud that my PC serves as the Commander of the Oconto VFW Post, and that he is an active member of the USSVI – SubVets organization. He, and now we, are active supporters of Veterans issues, and we are humbled often to be in the presence of heroes from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and now into the modern wars. Since I truly wish to express my gratitude, I am posting a day early. I think that our Soldiers and Sailors should be honored every day.

For my tribute, I’d love to share a romantic little “just because I love you surprise” that PC found for me this week. You see, this week has been a surgical recovery for me – I believe my foot is coming along nicely, thank you. PC decided to find me the most wonderful gift to help my healing.

Not to delay in sharing my surprise, but I’d first like to tell you about one of our favorite mechanical toys. Alright, alright…stop 😉 I’ll tell you, your minds can sink low rather quickly. Not that kind of toy – that is for someone else to blog about.

Our favorite toy is a vintage home jukebox from the 1960s – crafted with rich woods and bringing a sense of nostalgia to our cozy little cottage on the Bay. The jukebox sat, unused for many years while PC was a bachelor. He had picked it up at a yard sale for $20 and thought he might tool around and get it working someday. Eventually he realized that he didn’t possess the ability to manage the repairs, so the music box rested all this time gathering dust.

This past summer, we found a gentleman in Chicago who specialized in this type of repair, so we loaded the dinosaur into the back of the Ford Pickup Truck and took a 3-hour tour down to the Windy City.

Just over a week after we left our baby in the care of this jukebox artisan, we got a call to come and bring her home. Shiny and new, she had a voice that could bring tears to a WWII Veteran as he would sit in memory of how the music could heal his war wounded heart – if only through the end of Side Two of the record.

Since she came home, we’ve tinkered a bit to get her back in shape. After all, she is about 50 years old, and she sat dormant for a couple of decades. Now, however, she is at full strength, and she fills our little home with the cracks and pops of albums from the generations who knew how to get off from the couch and flip the record to the other side without a remote.

Now that I’ve shared a newly rediscovered passion, I’ll share my gift from PC. PC, you see, is an eBay king. He loves finding old treasures: jewelry, antiques, books, you name it. This week, a package came in the mail, and he couldn’t wait until Christmas came to give it to me. He wanted me to be able to use the music to help in my healing, and he knows how I think I become more brilliantly focused with classic tunes of the legendary crooners.

With that, my present is 5 albums from my absolute favorite, Frank Sinatra. I’ll leave you with a couple of lines from his poetry, and I’ll let you in on who I get to listen to now in the way his voice was intended to be recorded – on black vinyl that pops and crackles with wisdom and truth. This morning as I write to you, I put the jukebox on all-play. I have the joy of this debonair gentleman singing me his sultry lullabies all day as I work.

His voice trembles through the walls of my home, reminding me to love who I have become:

But now the days grow short. I’m in the autumn of the year.

And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs,

From the brim to the dregs, and it poured very clear.

It was a very good year.

Hmmm… Those lyrics have me thinking, “Self, treat yourself to a deep red Cabernet tonight. Yes, self, enjoy a very good year.”

And for all of you, my friends, join me. Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. Please, if you raise a glass, raise it high to our Veteran’s. Thank them for keeping us safe.

And raise a glass to the Oldies but Goodies. We can find so much purity in their messages. Like a fine wine….

Thank you to Fire Control Technician First Class, PC. Thanks to my Father-in-Law, Pa; and thanks to Ponch. Thank you to Floyd and to Scott and Laura. Thanks to Tim, Eric, Kevin, Jim and Dean. Thanks to Zach. Thank you Elmer and Cliff, and Uncle Gigs and Uncle Allie. Thank you to our Wisconsin Military that is actively deployed. Thank you Bear who served in our Air Force, and thank you to all of our Veterans, and to our military personnel who are actively serving. Thank you, and here’s to you all! And thank you to the Military families who also sacrifice. Remember the wives, brothers, sisters, children and parents who give their most precious support. THANK YOU!

Please feel free to post a thank you to the Veterans in your life. We’d love the chance to thank them as well.

With Warmest Regards and Humble Gratitude,

Heidi Lee

Online Dating: Finding Opera in a Chorus of Elmer Fudds

The view out from my bedroom window is a bit extraordinary – peering through frost-laced glass I see the sun glistening on Green Bay. PC wakes me with a fresh cup of coffee and our Sunday morning ritual of listening to Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me on #NPR radio. A Boom penetrates the bedroom and shakes me in my jammies. My first thought is “here comes an autumn storm” until I realize the thunder in the air is actually coming from Elmer Fudd in my back yard.

Beams of light cross the Bay, and dance in front of the hunters cruising in their viscous vessels of ducky death. I send my thoughts upwards towards Apollo; the Ancient Sun God, “Won’t you please, fair and just Apollo, please bless that hunter with a beam of light straight between the eyes as he lifts his gun and points towards our little feathered friends? Fly away, little birdies. Fly and be free.”

Living in Wisconsin, hunting is a way of life for many. I’m not opposed to the sport as I understand the need to control animal populations. I simply do not choose the rugged outdoors as a primary means of a food source or entertainment. I prefer to get my meat from my grocer’s freezer and my entertainment from HBO.

This morning’s hunting episode caused my mind to wander back to ancient Sunday mornings before PC was in my life – cruising through the Online classifieds of the ugly Singles scene. Those mornings were often dedicated to searching through the profiles of Match.com to see if any new specimens could peek my interest. Too often, however, my AM coffee and Danish was interrupted by an online photo stylings of a potential Match –

Screen Name: Mr. Bass Pro seeks his Little Mrs.

He clearly expectived that the ladies in waiting were anxiously awaiting a private viewing of his latest trophy buck from a hunting expedition.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, some men seem to believe that women are sexually drawn to the guy who can gut a wild boar with his bare hands, and use the tanned boar-skin to line the baskets we timid feminine creatures would use to gather and grind the grains. These men see themselves in the glowing image of Orion, the mythical hunter, and they think that women swoon under their protection.

Really? Why? Why would any person in their right mind think that posting a picture of a Gutted Deer hanging by twine from a rafter was sexy? Why would he believe a woman would get hot and bothered seeing the murderer himself poses next to the victim while toasting with a can of beer and a bag of pork rinds? Why?

People have asked me, how did I get lucky enough to find my Prince Charming (aka PC)? With all of the  unique  people online, how did I navigate through the herds of love-seekers to find my perfect Match? Well, while I truly believe that he and I are lucky in love, I will say that finding him took skill, planning and knowing myself.

I thought I might share some of my Match.com rules with you, my friends, so that you too may learn to enjoy the exciting people in the e-social scene. How do e-love seekers manage to find people in the online scene without trying to fit his square peg into her round hole? How does one avoid the after taste from the aroma of Elmer Fudd if she is more interested in the mindless babblings of PePe LePew?

First – you have to know and love yourself. Realize that you are entitled – not only what you want, but you also have a right to not settle for someone who you don’t want. I have said this before, and I will continue to remind you. If you aren’t happy with yourself, you cannot find true happiness with another person.

Next step – Build an Anti-profile. When I started building my online check list a couple of years ago, I was able to search for men based on hobbies and interests. At first, I started by naming the qualities I had hoped to find in a guy. I said I wanted someone who was romantic, intelligent, funny and who enjoyed travel, wine and conversation. I hoped for someone who liked books and music. I mentioned a couple of my bucket list items included learning to speak Italian or visiting Ancient Greece. Sounds good, right? Sure, but who wouldn’t want those things? It seemed that everyone online wanted some version of that exact thing – but each person had their own translation of how that looked.

I’d bet that profile matched probably 3/4 of the people who use online sites. I didn’t say anything unique or creative to stand out in the crowd, and I didn’t really give the men an idea of who I was looking for. How could I, right? I hadn’t found him yet. That would be like describing the a cozy little cottage in Ireland when you’ve never been outside of the United States. You haven’t been there – so you can’t do it.

Some of my mistakes:

  • I didn’t specify that when I spoke of books I meant the drunken mystique of Ernest Hemingway
  • I failed to describe the music I wanted to hear was the romantic and velvety tones of Frank Sinatra
  • I never pointed out that the wine I wanted didn’t involve cardboard recycling

I did get what I asked for though – books and music. For my first coffee date, I met a man in the Starbucks part of Barnes & Noble. Before he arrived, I positioned myself near the front door and watched the types of books each man coming in would pick up and thumb through. As my guy pushed through the crowds and made his way over to me, I saw him touch his fingers to the Bargain Bin where he lifted a copy of Beer-Making for Dummies. He grabbed onto the book as if it were the last true message from a Prophet, and he made a beeline for the empty chair next to me. Oh no!

As we began our cozy little chat, he went on to quote the literary genius from his recent copy of You Might Just be a Redneck. He continued to entice me with promises of visiting the world’s largest ball of twine as we toured the NASCAR museums around the country.

OK, so this guy wasn’t going to cut it for me.

What did I need to do differently in my search? I took a new approach. I needed a little fine-tuning of my strategy. Instead of describing what thought I wanted in 50 words or less, I learned to be proactive. I read into and behind what was in the pictures and the bios of the men on Match rather than waiting for them to come to me. I reached out with a wink and a smile, and I started making tracks with men who had real “Heidi Potential”.

What I found  as I searched through the profiles with a new awareness was that our personalities do really come through the computer screen. I targeted my search more in line with my specific interests. I kept I excluded the characteristics I couldn’t live with –  hobbies that included firearms for example. I only started communicating with the men who could fit outside of my Anti-Profile – well – for the most part anyways.

Typically, an avid Wisconsin hunter makes his passion clearly known through pictures and language. Although I didn’t learn immediately that the online poster boy of Brawny Paper Towels was not my dream man, over time I understood how to use profile images and language to sort through the guys I didn’t want. If their pictures and language resembled Mr. Brawny, then I didn’t try read something between the lines that didn’t really exist.

I’ve heard people say that you can’t tell much from a one-page profile on Match or eHarmony. But you can. True, you won’t find your Love at First Site – but you can figure out how to find the obvious deal-breakers before you get started.

When I went online that I couldn’t say,” I want…a, b, and c”. I it was that simple, I probably would have already found him already. In the past, every man I had chosen to be my Happily Ever After turned out to leave me as Heidi Happily Even After…and on my own.

I believe that we hurt our chances when we lock ourselves into finding the image of the perfect man or woman. Our preconceived ideas create blinders on us against other possibilities. This means we limit our choices to only people who fit inside of that box whether by looks, by career, by education level, by whatever…. But I say, get rid of what doesn’t fit at all – then work your way into finding something better.

Through trial and error, I learned to ask myself,” What are my deal-breakers from the start?”. For me, I knew I could never be a Hunter’s Widow – the Wife who loses her husband a couple of weeks every November to the guys at Deer Camp with several cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Images of Christmas shopping in the Taxidermy aisle; thoughts of batting my eyes as I open my new formaldehyde and pine scented anniversary gift –  simply not a chapter in my Happily Ever After. I’d stopped encouraging further winks and emails from profiles that led with the Outdoor themes, and I looked to isolate hobbies such as camping and fishing. While I like the the to take in a bit of nature, men who lead with these activities probably enjoy it way more than I ever would.

And even though the Wisconsin Hunter’s Widow Tradition involves a Tour Stop from the Chip -N- Dale dancers, I’d rather take a trip to the city with my best girl friends to drop the singles into the g-string-covered genitals of the golden Adonis. And I’d top the trip off with a day of shoe-shopping.

Knowing what I truly wanted in my Prince Charming took time. Women and men both build images of their perfect love, but those images are built on dreams and wishes – and often likenesses to one’s self. Quite frankly, I could never put up with dating me – I’m too high-maintenance.

The man who I fell in love with is nothing like the image I created over my 40 year search for happiness. Instead, he is someone who I could have never imagined. While he enjoys taking me to the Theater, to Concerts and to the Ballet, everything he learned about Opera he learned from Bugs Bunny. You would have never looked for that written into a profile, huh? His love of Wagner evolved over many episodes of the tragic conflict between Bugs and Elmer. What a guy!

So my advice to you, friends, Why try to fityour perfect match into an incomplete image? If you limit yourselves within what you think you need, you leave out a whole other world of interest and intrigue. Once you figure out what you don’t want, Let yourself be surprised by what you might find. I did, and I’ve put a new man into my dreams who actually fits there.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Side note: I realize that many people – men and women alike – are passionate about the sport of hunting. My thoughts are, if this is your primary passion, save the blood and glory stories for Date #3 – at least.

Lovin the mufas, Lovin my life

Hello, my friends.

I must say that journaling my hurdles and successes is really helping me to appreciate little things around me that I may otherwise take for granted.

That being said, here is my accountability from yesterday.

4 meals? Well, no. But at least I got in 3 quality meals – each with a Mufa and 400 calories. And by the end of the evening, I realized I had 400 calories that I could spend – Wine! 400 calories = 4 (5 oz) glasses of red wine. So I could have had 2 more glasses to meet my calorie count.

Wait – I don’t think that is really in the principles of the Flat Belly. But it sure did make the evening with PC a bit cozier 😉

I’ve mentioned yesterday’s blueberry heaven of a breakfast, and I made a healthy Run for the Border over lunch. Dinner was filled with rich flavors balanced by the crispness in the wine. Sound wonderful? Ok, I’ll share my recipe.

It happens that I collect cookbooks although I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. I use them for inspiration rather than instruction. Last night I was thumbing through #RachelRay’s Book of 10 for new twists to put on the every day boneless skinless. I happened across a yummy little number on Page 14 for Mediterranean chicken with Saffron CousCous and decided this was a great place to start. The challenge was the the recipe was too heavy in Mufas – you have to watch your intake because they really do lump on the calories if used in excess. Her version used 2 Mufas; olive oil and kalamata olives. I had to cut back.

In pie plate – mix together 1/2 C flour with a pinch of salt and a whole lot of pepper. Top it off with a sprinkle of Cayenne pepper and you’re all set. Lightly dredge your 4 breasts and give them a little shake. The recipe calls for 2 tbsps of heated olive oil, but I cut it back to 1 tbsp to allow for extra olives. Brown the breasts on each side until golden and crispy, then turn the heat down and cook thru (about 10 minutes). Remove and set aside. (If your guy seems to be sneaking a couple peeks into the kitchen, dab a little flour on your cheek. He’ll appreciate you a little later)

Now comes the fun! And here is how I avoided adding sodium rich powdered chicken broth and water. Deglaze your pan with 1 cup of water and get all that good, rich gunk up off the bottom of the pan. Pour off and set aside.

(Start Couscous – I use a Hodgkin Mill brand for time saving – basil and garlic flavored. I added 1 cup of frozen peas to the water before I followed the package directions. helps cut down on doing dishes)

Add a tad more oil to the pan, and saute 1 chopped red onion and 5 cloves of minced garlic. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of dried thyme. Like Ms Ray, I also like to use fresh herbs – just didn’t have any.

Hopefully you notice a little bit of sticking to the pan, right? No worries – grab a bottle of white wine, and deglaze again using the wine (just over 1 cup). Wow – smell that? Add the broth back in, and toss in about 20 kalamata olives; halved. Throw in 1 cup of grape tomatoes and return the chicken to the gravy. Heat through (about 5 minutes for the perfect doneness in your tomatoes).

As I finished up dinner prep, I started to set the table. The sounds of Alex Trebec gave way to a light jazz – Huh? PC noticed all of the work I put into dinner, and he decided to set the mood for relaxation with the right background noise. I sometimes find it hard to believe that this type of man exists – and that I literally picked him out of an Online Dating JC Penneys Catalog. But here he is – over a year into our relationship and still bringing the romance and the thought. I truly am lucky.

As a family, PC, Cole and I sat around the table just a little longer than usual last night. Very nice. Then we all moved back into the dining room where the soft music was replaced by a Thursday night favorite – The #BigBangTheory. It seems both PC and Cole find me remarkably similar to Sheldon in my nerd-dom. Wow.

So how did I do yesterday in meeting my goals? I came close on the eating, and I completely missed the mark on the exercise. I did spend more quality time with my family and managed to turn work off for the evening. The good news is – PC decided to help me out with the vigorous activity a little later so I could even up my goals 😉

Cheers!

Heidi Lee