30 June 2013

Google Reader Goes Away

Happy Sunday!

I'm just popping in to remind you that Google Reader is going away today!

If you haven't decided yet which alternative to try, I outlined several of them for you back in April. Feel free to check out Part I and Part II of the Goodbye Google Reader conversation.

And in case you follow Polka Dotted Peony in Google Reader, feel free to update your preferences by following along on Bloglovin'.

Thanks for stopping by each day… it sure means a lot.

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28 June 2013

In Between

For as long as I remember I've been a dreamer, a pusher, a do-er - always thinking about the next thing, pointing my bow in the direction of where I think I'm headed, setting my sails for the destination… ready to have arrived already!  

And for as long as I remember, I've not arrived...whatever "arrived" actually means in my head.  

It's true of almost everything in my life, really, and maybe it just means I'm super impatient. I'm sure on April 23, the night before my surgery, when I thought of June 28th - today - I imagined myself certainly back to totally normal life and use of my shoulder, but here comes today, and my shoulder is still not even close to regular - each movement calculated to avoid that pinch of pain.  And when I moved into my condo almost exactly four years ago (happy anniversary little home!), surely at this point, four years in, I'd have landed on the most delicious combination of vignettes and paint colors and furniture selections. And even when I started this little blog a little over a year ago (happy birthday woohoo!), imagining a year in, I know I thought I'd have found a comfortable groove by now, arrived at just the right tone and blog layout and voice.  

But with all those things, and many others, I'm just right here in the in-between, and when I raise my arm to check out a paint swatch for the little wall in my bedroom, where I do my blogging, that twinge in my shoulder reminds me that I've not arrived - I never will actually - and that life is really a series of in-betweens.

This has been Five Minute Friday, a five-minute writing prompt. Check it out for yourself right here. #fmf

24 June 2013

SONGS FOR YOUR NOW // june 2013

My name is Cammie and I have a hard time keeping up with good music.  

My musical rut is comfortable and kind and full of songs I already know the harmonies to.  But how boring! I'm missing so much beautiful art.

I created this series to force help me to find new music that's worth my time and ears, without wasting it on songs that aren't even good.  Anybody with me?

So without further ado… here are your songs for now - June 2013.

Thanks to my sister and sister-in-law for helping me out with this compilation!

21 June 2013

Rhythm (updated with working audio link)

In music, as a musician, you've got to really hope for a percussion section that knows what they're doing.  In the traditional sense of the music we all listen to regularly, that's usually the drummer, but can often be the pianist, the guitarist, or the guy in the back grooving his head to the beat of the bass.  The percussion instrument is the backbone, the spine, holding the body up.  You depend on its strength, consistency, regularity, going long and wide and all the way to the end.  

A band without a strong percussionist feels out of whack, sort-of young and immature, unable to keep up with itself or maintain harmony among its members.  No matter how beautifully the melody instruments and voices glide into the room, skirt swaying softly behind, that strong beat, however gentle it might be, is what ties it and keeps it all together.

So it is in life, too, I think.  

We need a consistent beat in the background, something keeping us in line. For me - a rhythm is healthy and good and strong and growing.  Get up early, get to the gym, keep a to do list, write things on it just to cross them off, be intentionally in community, spend time in quiet and prayer, head outdoors and appreciate the beauty around, make meals, eat fruit, call my mom and text my sister, write, read, ride with the windows down.  The sense of same, for me, is not mundane, but life-giving and new.

And now for something totally different: Me singing a song that I recorded a few years ago. My grandparents have always loved listening to me sing, and asked me to record their favorite hymns.  This recording was played at my grandfather's funeral in January. I hope it's a blessing to you, and will remind you of what keeps you upright and strong.

Following along in a reader? Check out the audio here.

This has been Five Minute Friday, a 5-minute writing prompt. You should give it a try. It's different and fun and kinda freeing.

20 June 2013

Massage Haze

My physical therapist recommended massage to assist with my recovery from surgery.  I just had a massage, with a therapist that was recommended by a good friend, and it was awesome.

You know that post-massage haze that makes you feel a little woozy and dreamy all at the same time?

That is so me right now.

19 June 2013

How to get a shellac manicure without traipsing to the salon

There's a reason shellac manicures are everywhere right now, and it's because they are AWESOME.  In general, the shellac, which is what the polish is called, stays on the nail, chip-free for up to three weeks, and at that point, in my experience, the polish doesn't chip, but since your nail is growing, there's a gap between the cuticle and the polish that requires either removal or a new paint job.  

Even though shellac manicures have more staying power than a regular-polish manicure, a once-every-two (or three)-weeks visit to the salon can be more time-consuming and cost-prohibitive than many of us would like. 

Enter the at-home shellac manicure.  

I purchased a Sally Hansen kit for about $60 at Target, which is where I find everything I don't need, and it contains everything you need to get going.  My kit came with only one color (I chose a ballet pink since it's nice and neutral, but there are lots of options), so if you want to add variety, you may want to purchase additional colors separately.  

To start, you'll want to remove whatever (if any) polish is on your nails.  I had a shellac on my nails, and needed to remove it, so I soaked cut-in-half cotton balls in acetone  (make sure you get acetone!) polish remover, and set them on my nails, then secured them with long strips of tin foil (the stuff you've got in your kitchen, cut in strips with scissors works great).  The remover needs to sit for about 10-15 minutes, and this method didn't give me the heebie jeebies like soaking my nails in remover, so I highly recommend it.  If you are a freak like me and need to check your phone, I recommend bending your finger and using your knuckle.  Just a tip from one freak to another.

Once the nails are bare, I typically buff them a bit with a nail buffer (one of those foamy kind of little brick nail files).  I don't think this is required, but it seems like it helps the polish adhere a little better to the nails.  Once you're good and buffed, make sure there are no lingering nail filings, then go ahead and apply the Step 1 polish, which is a clear base coat.  After each coat, you'll go under the lamp, which is on a timer and should automatically turn off once each cycle is done.  Depending how impatient I am, sometimes I let the light go two cycles between each coat for good measure.

Follow the same procedure for both Step 2 and Step 3 polish. Step 2 will be the color, and Step 3 will be the shiny top coat.  If you want more color depth or better coverage with your color, use the light in between coats.  Shellac acts pretty different than regular polish, and it's not a good idea to glob it on to speed up the process. Just speaking from experience over here.  

After you've completed the light session(s) after Step 3, grab a little alcohol swab or wipe (which come in the kit and when you run out find them at your local drugstore) and gently wipe off the sticky layer that remains.  Here's a tip: if you're used to traditional manicures, this is going to feel wholly counterintuitive. Trust me, though, if you used the lamp… your polish has hardened, and the best way to finish off the polish job is to wipe off that sticky layer.

In summary, follow the instructions in the kit, and add these few #protips:
  • Thick coats of shellac polish are not going to turn out how you think. You'll likely end up with bubbles, and then tears, because it will force you to go back to the removal phase. Not fun. Again with the speaking from experience thing.
  • When you're applying the polish, be careful to remove any bits that have snuck onto your cuticles before going under the light. That polish is going to dry hard, and it's not going to come off your skin cleanly after it's hardened.
  • It's going to take some getting used to, but once your nails have hardened, they are hard. Go back to washing dishes or shuffling playing cards or typing furiously on your MacBook.  They're going to be just fine, and this is when you'll fall in love. No more pre-bed manicures followed by willing yourself to sleep in a position involving fingernails not touching anything for untold hours of REM sleep.  
  • The polish really will look nice for two weeks (and three if you push it).  I recommend choosing a color you're willing to keep on for that long, or it's not real
Isn't it a miracle?  

Have you tried the shellac?  Are you up for trying it? I'd love to know!

18 June 2013

A Father's Day (almost) feast

Summer and all its promises are pretty good, right? 

I hosted Father's Day dinner last night, and all of us who were in town gathered around my tiny table for my best efforts at a feast, and additional efforts at having enough dining chairs.  Even my yellow nailhead cushy desk chair got a seat at the table.  There were pork chops and bacon-wrapped tenderloin, and Shauna Niequist's Basic Risotto, which, as it turns out, isn't quite as scary to prepare as I'd envisioned it.  The risotto-making process is described in her recipe as somewhere between not letting the grain drown, and also not letting it dry out, which is more accurate than I could have described it myself. And just keep stirring.  

Roasted broccoli and a delicious Caesar salad rounded out the meal, and we finished it off with Shauna's Blueberry Crisp and vanilla bean ice cream.  We toasted sweet and sparkly champagne to my outstanding dad, who'd give the shirt off his back to anyone he thought might need it in the slightest way, and who never lacks in new and original Ole and Sven jokes. Apologies to the Norwegians out there.

I think I've mentioned it before, but I work in our family's business, so I have the unique opportunity to watch my dad each day, in his element, and in his world, which he dominated long before I entered the picture.  Our little family business isn't perfect by any means, but if you want to test someone's integrity, work closely with them in a stressful industry for nearly 8 years, and you'll soon see where their rubber meets that pothole-ridden road. For my dad, right is right and wrong is wrong, and you don't ever do something to someone that you wouldn't want done to your own child, even if they wronged you first.

I don't take it lightly, this blessing of having a great dad. It's almost more uncommon these days to have such an experience, so my thankfulness is deep and wide and long.

And at Father's Day - we toast.

The recipes mentioned above, and a couple more, including bacon-wrapped goat cheese-stuffed dates, can be found in Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine

*Affiliate link used. That just means if you purchase using that link, a small portion of the purchase price comes my way. Amen.

14 June 2013


When my cousin Andrew was just a little guy - probably 2 or 3 years old - and felt that he wasn't getting your adequate attention for whatever bad guy dinosaur tornado farm tractor another cheez-it please story he was telling, he would take his stubby little hands and wrap them around the cheeks of whoever he was talking to, look them straight in the eye, and proclaim… "yooooouuu listen to meeeeee….".  At the older-wiser-cousin-age of 5 or 6 I thought it was pretty hilarious, and actually couldn't really believe he got away with it.  

It's a universal need, isn't it? To be heard.  Really heard.  

Have you ever thought about the difference between having what you say enter through someone's ears, and just pass back out, versus having what you say enter through someone's ears, bounce around in their brain, cause a reaction, and have them actually have HEARD what you're saying, enough so that they might reflect it back to you with more understanding than the way you said it? 

Let us be listeners today - people with open ears and hearts, who care more about what we're actually hearing than the eloquent way we'll respond.  

What is it that your people are saying?

This has been Five Minute Friday, which is a five-minute writing prompt. It's fun and freeing and you should give it a try.  

12 June 2013

I live in Madison. Wisconsin, that is!



Madison is a wonderfully unique town – in many ways because we are a fusion town – both the capitol of the state, and home to a Big Ten university. We are also situated on an isthmus, which simply refers to the fact that we are a city between two picturesque lakes. Boasting a variety of wonderful local eateries, plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, the university and all its glorious sporting and other events, and two pristine lakes, which frame our state’s capitol, Madison is simply outstanding. 

I LOVE playing tour guide to friends and family who are enjoying their first visit to Madison. There is such fun to be had, sights to see. Let’s take a virtual tour, today, shall we? It’s Saturday in Madison. Let’s get started!


We’ll start in the heart of Madison’s downtown – on the Capitol Square. Madison is one of the United States’ most bike-friendly towns, so it’s fitting we’re also one of the country’s super-cool cities to adopt an Urban Bike Share program. Madison BCycle, with its 32 stations and 300 bikes scattered throughout the downtown area make two-wheeled downtown-transport a cinch. So fun, right? 

Each Saturday morning – Spring + Summer + Fall – enjoy the colorful bounty at Madison’s on-the-Capitol-square Farmer’s Market. At the farmer’s market, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, such that you may choose to skip the produce section during your next trip to your local grocery store. You’ll also find LOTS of local cheeses (hello dairy state!) fresh meats, and baked goods. When I visit the farmers market, my standby vendors are Stella’s Bakery (try the fresh-out-of-the-oven hot & spicy cheese bread!), and Brunkow Cheese (make sure to sample the fried mozarella). Madison’s a really unique town, and that uniqueness attracts equally unique people. On your trip around the square, you’re likely to see plenty of talented musicians and artists, whose wares are for sale to passersby. 

Following a stroll through the market, I suggest breakfast on Pinckney Street (an arm off the Capitol Square) at Marigold Kitchen. I usually go for one of their savory scramblers, made with local organic eggs, but if you feel the need to carb-load, the fresh berry-topped french toast is out of this world. If you’d like to take something to go, choose from dozens of scones and muffins, along with a steaming espresso drink from the espresso bar. Marigold Kitchen is a super hot spot, though, so word to the wise – get there early. Seating is first-come, first-served, and a table-for-two can be hard to come by come ten o’clock on Saturday morning. 

Since you’re stuffed from all that french toast at Marigold’s, we’ll let the food settle until dinner, which you’ll enjoy at Marigold Kitchen’s sister eatery, Sardine. One of Madison’s most-loved spots, Sardine is situated on the shore of Lake Monona. Although the restaurant itself doesn’t have a beachy-feel, the beauty of the view (and patio seating, if you want) is just lovely and so perfectly accents Sardine’s wonderful menu items. Sardine has managed to find a just-right feel that makes it a favorite for classy birthday parties and date-night dinners alike. My all-time favorite item on the menu is the Roasted Half Chicken with Balsamic Butter Sauce. It’s just delectable. When you make your reservation (which you should), though, reserve one of those half-chickens, because everybody loves ‘em, and they go quick on a busy Saturday evening. Pair it with the Parmesan polenta instead of the frites, and you’ll be in out-to-dinner heaven. 

Save a little room for dessert, because we’re headed to the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial (student) Union, and the outdoor terrace, which overlooks the larger of our two lakes, Mendota. On Saturday nights during the summer, the stage on the Terrace boasts local and well-known musicians, who provide a soundtrack to the beautiful summer. Get some chocolate peanut butter ice cream in a waffle cone inside the Union at the Babcock Hall Dairy ice cream counter. Thank me later for the recommendation on the chocolate peanut butter ice cream. 

Sit back and relax; this is Madison – one of our country’s finest.

11 June 2013

Housewarming moving day meal basket

I like having the opportunity to help people move, but what I really like is providing a hearty meal for the exhausted movers, so they can eat when they have a moment in the midst of unpacking.  A couple of weeks ago, when some friends moved to town, I decided to combine their moving-day meal with a few housewarming goodies.

Here's what you need to make it happen:

The Housewarming part:
  • Sturdy, roomy, classic-looking basket
  • Fragrant candle in a universally appealing scent (I like to stick with light floral, citrusy scents)
  • Bottle of wine (I try to select something pretty universal like a good Sauvingon Blanc)
  • Cotton tea towel(s)
The Moving Day Meal part:
Moving Day Essentials you forget you need:
  • Paper plates
  • Paper napkins
  • Plastic silverware
  • Large plastic garbage bag
The list above seems pretty extensive, but everything tucked into the basket perfectly, and I draped a tea towel on the edge of the basket, so it looked pretty to boot.  The sloppy joes arrived already warm and in the crockpot, which can be plugged-in to keep warm, to allow the movers to eat whenever they're hungry. Sometimes I also tuck in a roll or two of toilet tissue, because that's usually the first thing you need, but the last thing you can find in the boxes. The garbage bag is the same concept.  In most cases, I'd probably also include beverages, but this time, I just included some red Solo cups (not pictured), since I knew these movers love their tap water.

The best thing my mom taught me about moving (and what she always does first when she helps me!) is to get the bed made up right away, so when you're ready to collapse at the end of the exhausting day, you don't have to locate the linens and get them on the bed before you crawl in.

Are you moving soon, or have you recently? Have any great tips for the rest of us?

10 June 2013

Better with time

The other day I was talking with some friends, reminiscing about how the world has changed. We came up with a pretty hilarious list of changes we've experienced in the just the last ten (ok or 15) years or so. 

1. Remember when we had to WAIT for a modem to dial up? And how if someone in your house was on the internet, your phone line was busy? And if you were advanced enough to have call waiting, and someone was online, they'd get kicked off?  

2. Remember when caller ID first came out, and it was a little box, separate from the phone itself? It was AMAZING to find out who'd called while you were gone, whether or not they left a message on the answering machine, which actually contained a mini-cassette tape.  

3. And video cameras. Let's talk about them. I hope you were wearing shoulder pads, because they were the size of a briefcase.  And when dad would be mid-recording, showcasing I or my brother's singing-on-the-fireplace talents, with each zoom-in or zoom-out, the sound of an airplane engine, moving the lens itself.  And when you have all the home videos transferred to DVD in the year 2009, the zoom sound is still loud and proud. And hilarious.

4. And finally…  a few visual representations of how things have changed...
zach morris via; bag phone via
via; adaptation mine

07 June 2013


The roar behind a boat that size, flying across the sparkling water, forming a wake the size of the pyramids in Egypt,  is how I'd imagine an aircraft carrier sounds, warming up its engine, growling and sputtering into life, ready to take over the entire world if you let it.  And the speed at which the wind and water droplets come at you, threatening to pull you right down into the water, untold limbs flailing in directions only olympic gymnasts are meant to master.  A glance at your foot, planted securely in the boot of the waterski is a stark reminder to keep your eyes on the ball, as it were, because water is water, but when you're traveling over it at 30 miles per hour, water is harsh and hard and swallows you whole. Not to mention the fact that there are fish under there and probably sharks and muskies waiting to make you Sunday brunch.

You get cocky for a second, because you made it over the that wake at a pretty good clip, and back across the other side seems easy.  So your muscles take over for your brain. You lose focus and sight of what you're doing, thinking instead of the high fives, and how your brothers are going to think you're so cool because of how you've improved, and what bathing suit you'll wear for the Waterski magazine photo shoot.

And the water is harsh and hard and swallows you whole. And it stings. Both your sunscreen-drenched body and your heady pride.

Oh life.  How I lose focus on what I'm doing. Letting muscle memory take over, losing intentionality, losing myself in the mundane instead of reveling in the new and the beauty and the gloriousness of this world and relationships.  And then I fall, into bad habits or bad relationships or bad attitude or ungratefulness - and it hurts a bit.  

The beauty of the fall? It hurts just enough to help you learn how to do better next time. 

This has been Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt was Fall.  You should give it a try. It's fun and kinda freeing.

05 June 2013

Pep Talk

Following along in a reader? Click here.

Sometimes you need a push. A self-induced push, in fact.  This weekend, I spent some time thinking, and realized I'd made some unintentional changes in my life, accidentally walked away from some healthy habits I'd worked hard to establish and stick with.

It quickly became pep-talk time.  My very own pep-talk, baby. Back to basics I go.

And just because it pumps me up, I hope you'll enjoy the Ultimate Coach Taylor Pep Talk from the best show that ever was. Skip past the ad, cause it's kinda lame. 

04 June 2013

Don't Follow Your Passion

Following along in a reader? Listen here.

Tonight on a walk (holy beautiful evening) I listened to a sermon that got me. And so I must share it.  Its concepts are ones that most anyone, no matter where you find yourself on your faith journey, can align with.  It's a counter-cultural concept - the idea of following something other than your passion - isn't it?  It's definitely not the Oprah way. But it's the best way.

If you have a few minutes (33:59 to be exact), give it a listen.   

To give you just a taste… the teacher, Todd Wagner, outlines a number of questions we should ask ourselves each day to assess how we are doing in our quest to imitate Christ.  Here are a few that stuck out to me:
  • What have you done to grow in wisdom and stature today?
  • When you showed up, how was evil restrained, injustice conquered, love multiplied, captives rescued, and/or joy increased?
  • Have you laughed out loud today?
  • How is this world or are others better today because you have stepped up…?

PS. I know not everyone who hangs out around here shares my faith. I'm ok with that if you are, and I sure hope you'll stick around.

03 June 2013

Recovery: How it's going

Ok, guys.  Here we are, a little more than a month post-surgery.

I have one word. 


Everything was going so well until almost exactly three weeks after surgery.  I was back to work, back to the gym, back to getting dressed without it being the most painful experience in all the world…

And then the pain returned.  So I did what any annoying conscientious patient would do and immediately called my surgeon.  Not actually my surgeon, but his staff. And I asked them to please contact him as soon as possible because certainly something had gone terribly wrong.  "I don't know if it's an infection or a problem or what, but it reeeeeally hurts…" 

Ok wait. I feel the need to digress for a moment. Did I ever tell you the very last thing I heard in the operating room right before I went under anesthesia? SOMEONE in that operating room said, 

"Well she's gonna be a high-maintenence one…"

No joke. I think they thought I was already under. I'm slowly recovering from the blow to my very low-maintenence (ahem) ego.  

Annnnyway… I called the doctor. Because it hurt. And he is the one who did this to me. And because maybe he can make the hurt go away.  I was informed that while I was still sedated, immediately after surgery, they'd given me a cortisone shot, and right around three weeks is when it starts wearing off. Dang it.  So my physical therapist, who I love , spends the first five minutes of each appointment gently scolding me for going back to work so soon, and for thinking it was a good idea to go to spinning class so soon.  She gave me a new sling (since I in all my star-studentness tossed mine while that cortisone shot was making me feel so good), prescribed a massage to relieve the tightness in the muscle, did an electro-therapy treatment on the area, and reminded me to ice "20 minutes on 20 minutes off…"

So that's the update.  I'm wearing my sling at home. It is so cute helpful.  And I'm icing. And I'm not spinning. And it's driving me a tad batty because I can't zoom around like I want to.  But I'm also thankful - first that I have access to good medical care, and second- that after I survive the torture of moving slower, my shoulder is going to feel better (fingers crossed gingerly so as not to hurt the shoulder).