The Short List: November/December

Sunset Rainbow

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Weekday late afternoons often find us scattered. After the kids and I check in and have our afternoon snack and a cup of tea, they wander off to their own corners of the house. Elena likes to do homework up in her room with her music. Eli likes to chill in the basement, either by himself or with the various neighborhood boys that find their way to our home many afternoons. If Mike is home, he’s often in the office finishing up a few things. You can find me in the kitchen, making dinner. We’re all here, but we’re in our own little worlds.

As a particularly rainy and dreary day drifted into evening, which thanks to Daylight Savings Time means 5 p.m. or so, the house was suddenly filled with a warm, golden glow. Every room of the house was suffused with the most beautiful light. It was so unusual, and almost magical, that it drew us outside. Once we stepped out, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset to the west and a full rainbow to the east. What a lovely reminder that even on the busiest and dreariest of days, there is always a reason to pause and look up.

I really love writing these monthly short lists, but I’m going to change the format up just a smidgen. In the past I’ve included a section of what I’m watching. It was initially a convenient way to fit in my Netflix movies and shows into regular content. While we’re still big fans of Netflix, my time with the Stream Team is up. Also, I’m just not an exciting person when it comes to television. I watch football and a handful of other things, and I’m pretty awful about adopting new shows. For those reasons, I’m letting the “Watching” portion of the Short List go. If I come across any new shows or documentaries that we really love I’ll definitely share, it just won’t be on a regular basis. Enough about what isn’t in the Short List this month, let’s get on to what is featured!


Did you catch my most recent reading update? It was a doozy, but there was lots of good stuff in there. Sadly, I’m in a bit of a slump right now. I’m still reading Shelly Turkle’s book about reclaiming conversation. It’s thought-provoking, and full of great information, but it’s not the easiest read. I’m determined to get through it, though, because I think the information is so valuable. I’m also about a third of the way through my selection for “A Book Your Mom Loves” in the 2015 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. My mom may have loved The Marranos by Liliane Webb, but I am struggling. If it were any other book I’d move on (life’s too short and so on and so forth), but #momguilt. I’m also reading Middle School Makeover by Michelle Icard. This book is a treasure trove of helpful nuggets about making the middle school years bearable, but again … it’s a book about middle school. Hence the slump.

On the bright side, I’m listening to Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar, the true account of the 33 Chilean miners that were trapped underground (and now a movie). It’s riveting! I highly recommend it. Eli and I just finished up Wildwood by Colin Meloy. He really enjoyed it, and it was a good choice for a read aloud – great illustrations, good dialogue, and writing that paints a vivid story for the reader and listener. We’re about to start The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I’ve never read it, but I hear it’s a classic.

Look for my final 2015 reading update to come at the end of December, along with my picks for the best books of the year!


Bombas socks

I have strong feelings about socks, and have discarded many a pair that didn’t make the cut. One of the only things that gets me through the winter months is a strong sock game. I got my first pair of Bombas over the summer, and now I’m hooked. I was so excited to find them on sale at the Gap, so I ordered another pair for myself and a pair for Eli. For every pair of socks you buy, the company donates a pair to someone in need. I’m telling you, these socks are The Bomb(as). Use my Bombas link to get 25% off your first pair.

Now that my toes are covered, let’s move to the neck. Last year I made a blanket scarf for super cheap using this fantastic tutorial from MomAdvice. Even though this isn’t how I normally wear it (I like it wrapped around my neck kerchief-style), you can see it in this photo:

Peter King and Angie Six 2015 NFL Combine Tweetup

I love how warm it keeps me all winter long, and how it takes a ho-hum outfit and instantly makes it cuter. I picked another one up at the aforementioned Gap sale, and it will take much will-power not to keep buying  or making more.

Tulip Tree Creamery Market District Carmel

Feet? Check. Neck? Check. Belly? Yes! If you live in Indiana or the parts of the Midwest, you must seek out any of the cheeses from Tulip Tree Creamery. Made in Indy by Netherlands transplant Fons Smits, it’s the most delicious form of dairy you can put in your mouth besides ice cream. I’m particularly fond of the Trillium, but I’ve yet to try a Tulip Tree product I haven’t loved.


I’ve always loved the New Yorker cartoons, and this collection of their cartoons about children’s books is such a treat.

Do you have a thing about visiting grocery stores when you travel too?

Get your cocoa and couches ready: the best holiday TV specials of 2015.

I’m obsessed with hygge this winter. This should help.

What’s on your short list of favorite things right now?


Build the Perfect Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WelcomeToIndiana #CollectiveBias

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world! #Collective Bias #WelcomeToIndiana #ad

It seemed like such a fantastic idea at the time. I was hosting my first grown-up housewarming party, and it only seemed fitting that I serve sophisticated and beautiful cheese and charcuterie board, as all adults do. It was perfectly executed in my head. Standing at the cheese counter, surrounded by an array of cheese, I found myself overwhelmed and confused. Unlike picking up a pre-prepared tray or cooking a tried-and-true dish, there is no recipe for the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Or is there?

A cheese and charcuterie board always sounds wonderful, but when it comes to creating one on your own it can be intimidating. What kind of cheese should I buy? How much should I buy? What pairs well together? Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a no-fail recipe for a cheese and charcuterie board. It’s easier to put together than you think and it fulfills the party trifecta: simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

In the past, following my recipe created a delicious board. Unfortunately it also created a hassle: finding all the ingredients to compose a cheese and charcuterie board meant driving to several different stores. But not anymore! A few weeks ago I attended the grand opening of a new kind of store in central Indiana. Market District, located at 11505 N. Illinois Street in Carmel, is more than a grocery store. It’s a food-lover’s destination shopping experience. There’s nothing else like it in Indiana. In the 120,000-square-foot store shoppers will find a fine-dining restaurant, a café, a full-service bakery, an extensive meat, seafood and produce department, and a grocery store with the traditional products and aisles.

Market District Cheese Shop Carmel Indiana

Market District Cheese Shop Carmel Indiana

What drew me in and blew me away, however, was the Cheese Shop. Containing more than 400 artisan, local and imported cheeses, over 100 varieties of deli meats and a tasty assortment of imported olives and antipasti, I’d finally found my one-stop shop for the perfect cheese and charcuterie board (and every other party need as well)! Even better, the Market District Cheese Shop is so very helpful when it comes to the intimidating task of selecting cheeses. Not only are they friendly and knowledgeable, but they are happy to let you sample cheeses and encourage you to try before you buy.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

Here’s what you’ll need to build your very own cheese and charcuterie board:


  • Platter or cutting board: I use a thick wooden cutting board. The goal here is to build your cheese and charcuterie board on something that provides a pretty backdrop as well as a sturdy surface to cut harder cheeses. Hefty platters (not your finest china) work well, as do marble, wood or slate boards.
  • Small bowls and jars: For holding toothpicks and accompaniments
  • Toothpicks
  • Appropriately sized serving spoons and knives: If you don’t own a special set of cheese knives, don’t panic! You can make do (as I’ve done) with small forks, spreaders and knives.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

Hard and Soft Cheeses (3 to 5 varieties)

I’m not sure where I first heard it, but when choosing cheeses I like to follow the formula “something old, something new, something goat, something blue.”

  • Old: When selecting an old cheese (which tastes way better than it sounds!), think along the lines of something firm and possibly crumbly, with lots of flavor. Examples of such cheeses are cheddar, manchego or gouda.
  • New: A new cheese is usually softer and hasn’t aged long. Some common new cheeses are mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta.
  • Goat: Goat cheese is made from goat’s milk. Most people think of chèvre (soft goat cheese), but there are many other types as well.
  • Blue: Blue cheese can range from mild to very strong. The blue comes from the cheese being inoculated with mold and allowed to age.

There are no real rules, though. If you hate goat cheese of any kind, skip it! The goal is to have a beautiful board that reflects your tastes. When estimating how much cheese to purchase, assume 4 oz of cheese per person.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

Charcuterie (1 or 2 selections)

This is completely personal preference. I love all the cured meats! Common choices include salami, prosciutto, chorizo, paté or terrine.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

Accompaniments (Choose bread and/or crackers, plus any others that strike your fancy)

  • Bread and/or crackers
  • Fruit (dried and/or fresh)
  • Nuts
  • Olives, pickles or other antipasti
  • Fruit spread or jam

Putting It All Together

Think of your board as a clean canvas and arrange your selections like art. I like to place the cheese around the board and then fill in with the charcuterie and accompaniments. Trust me – there’s no right way to arrange your board! Cheese and charcuterie should be serves at room temperature. If you’re worried about the cheese drying out, you can lightly cover it with a damp cloth until serving.

Tips for setting up the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Use this recipe to build a cheese platter that’s simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world!

As for details on this specific board I assembled, I opted for a local theme. I was so pleased by the availability of many unique and delicious local cheeses and charcuterie at Market District that I knew I wanted to build a board around those items. I used:

  • Steckler Grassfed Bright Meadow Organic Chedder Cheese
  • Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese Barren County Bleu
  • Capriole Goat Cheese Wabash Cannonball
  • Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese Everton
  • Tulip Tree Creamery Trillium
  • Smoking Goose Gin and Juice Salame
  • Mixed olives from Market District Antipasti Bar
  • Dried figs and black pepper cashews from Market District Bulk Foods
  • Fig jam
  • Apples
  • Market District Petite Toast

A cheese and charcuterie board is a fantastic addition to your own party or to bring as a dish to share. Serve the perfect cheese and charcuterie board that’s tailored to your own tastes and budget at your next gathering and watch everyone’s eyes light up and mouths water! Just follow this simple formula and fill in with one-stop shopping at Market District’s Cheese Shop. Need more inspiration? Check out the Market District website for more information on their products, articles and recipes.

In the meantime, I’d love to know: what’s one thing you’ll fight people for on a cheese and charcuterie board?


Colts vs. Patriots: Fully Inflated, Partially Dejected

Welcome back to my weekly Indianapolis Colts recap. As I feared, this week’s post wasn’t nearly as much fun to write as last week’s. So let’s just make like a Band-aid and rip this puppy off.

Taylor's Bakery Tom Brady Courtroom Sketch Cookie

Indianapolis Colts: 27 New England Patriots: 34

My Seat:

Once again, I was watching from home. I was asked multiple times last week if I’d be at the game. Even if it wasn’t for the late start time, I knew I wanted to watch this one in the privacy of my own home, with my own people. I envisioned lots of pacing and screaming. I was right on both accounts. It did make me mad to see the mass exodus of fans early in the fourth quarter. Had I been there, I would’ve stayed until the fat lady Bill Belachick sang.

My Drink:

Perhaps this was the first of many mistakes of the evening: I didn’t have a drop of alcohol the entire game. To be honest, my stomach wasn’t right all day. I’d love to say I was under the weather, but I honestly think I was just that nervous about the game. By the end of the first half I was finally feeling better. By the end of the third quarter I was seriously reconsidering my alcohol-free viewing choice.

My Post-Game Analysis:

There are two things that really bother me about this game.

The Patriots didn’t beat us, we lost the game just fine on our own. The Colts came out strong. We scored a touchdown on the opening drive for the first time in over 20 games. When the Patriots scored, we answered. I don’t know what Coach Pagano said in that locker room at halftime, but it must’ve amounted to the worst motivational speech in the history of football. When the Colts came back out it was a completely different team. Perhaps Pagano left for a corndog and the Ghost of Patriots Past paid a visit to the locker room instead. Every time it looked like maybe we’d exorcised the Ghost, he’d come back just in time to horrifically botch a third down attempt. Or a field goal.

The other thing that really irks me today is that once again we’ve created some kind of diversion that makes it easy for the Patriots and their fans to laugh at us. Had we continued to play with, as Pagano so eloquently put it a few weeks before, with “grit” and “intestinal fortitude,” we might’ve still lost the game … maybe even by the same score. But we could’ve held our heads up high, knowing we’d come close to beating one of the very best, if not the best, team in football. (Sorry, Tom Brady’s dad. No 60 points for you.) But no. We had to get cute with what I will remember for the rest of my living days as the most idiotic play call in NFL history. Before it was deflated footballs. Now we’re the Dolts.

I’m not going to get all Chicken Little here. I hate losing to the Patriots more than anything, but we’ll beat them another day. It’s just a game, and there are things I saw in this game that I did feel good about. Plus, I finally made some money on FanDuel. But unlike my very delicious Hideous Tom Brady cookie from Taylor’s Bakery, this game will leave a bad taste in my mouth for a long time.

Next week we host the New Orleans Saints at home, and praise Jesus – it’s a 1 o’clock game. Until then, go Colts!

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