Rachel Manek

GOOD things to take on a Road Trip.

August 26th, 2010 at 9:24 am by under Uncategorized

SpongeBob suckers. Individual DVD players. And this really, really cool map license game!

I will admit that I was dreading this road trip to the East Coast. But our friends had just gotten a lake house, and we had a week of vacation to do something fun with, and we really wanted to get away from our flooded yard.
To save money we decided against the plane tickets and decided to load up our trusty? SUV. I spent a little time putting together a bag of goodies for each of my daughters. Coloring books for the 2 year old. Activity books for the 8 year old. And a brand new box of crayons for each. But the one thing that really turned our trip into a fun family adventure was the License Plate Game. Now I know I could have gone old school and used paper and pen. Or I could have stepped it up a notch and gotten a paper map of the U.S.A. But this LOOKED neat, and it was made to last and it had parts that wouldn’t get lost in all the car’s crevices. Most of all.. It would be a “new” toy for Bella. And THAT is what she lives for. So.. Off we went. I didn’t expect to have to pull it out right away, but boredom set in quickly. But let me tell you. The moment I pulled that out, the hunt began in earnest. My husband dove head first into it. He wouldn’t let one car go by without checking the plates. They found Maine and Tennessee and West
Virginia. Every time he would find a new one, my daughter would squeal and say “good job Dad!” Then he would explain where to find it on the map. It was educational. And It was way cool. And it didn’t get old for TWO DAYS.

The ride home is a completely different story.

All this rain is not GOOD for my garden.

July 28th, 2010 at 9:35 am by under Uncategorized

I just came back from 5 beautiful days in Door County. A little overcast, but nothing that ruined our plans. We kayaked, biked, hung out in the hammock, played croquet, you get the idea…

But as I sit here at work, thinking about the summer, it has been a REAL BUMMER. I’m fortunate enough to have a work schedule that gives me my afternoons free to enjoy the sunshine and the outdoors. In recent years I have come to really enjoy spending time in my garden. Now looking at my garden gives me a stomach ache. I look out the window and I can see my plants wilting. They are literally drowning. I sometimes put on my rain boots and wade out to see what’s up. But it just makes me feel worse. I think back to the early spring when things were just starting to green. At the time I was thinking it was going to be a great year! Not so much.

Now I know it could be worse. That hail storm that went through the valley destroyed a lot of gardens. People at EAA have been stuck in mud. Folks in Appleton have ruined belongings lined up at the curb.

But I just wanted to be sad for a moment about the plants I’ve lost. I’ll get over it. Especially because my Hydrangeas are LOVIN’ all this wet weather. And I LOVE my hydrangeas! You’ll see those in a later post. Right now I’m mourning the loss of a viburnum and my favorite phlox.

Finding the GOOD wherever you live

July 15th, 2010 at 9:05 am by under Uncategorized

Just this week we reported that Money magazine had named Appleton as one of the best places in the country to live. I could have told you that! And for so many reasons NOT listed by the magazine.
But it did cause me to make a mental list of all the things that make Northeast Wisconsin a great place to live.
We don’t have alligators.
We don’t have earthquakes.
Or hurricanes.
Or mudslides.
Or those little lizards running through our yards.
And we do have awesome squeaky cheese curds.

But seriously, we live in one of those places where we don’t have to leave our little area of the world to escape, explore or just experience something new. Have you ever been to Kohler? It’s like it’s only little world with unbelievable food, hospitality like you’ve never before experienced and a spa that is divine.
What about Door County? Sunsets to write home about. Beautiful parks. Wonderful people. And a great game of bean bags at the AC Tap. When it comes to Door County I could go on and on and on. But I’m running out of time before I have to pack my bags for a trip up the Peninsula. Ask my co-workers about the Waupaca area and they will have you planning your next family trip. Like a little more adventure? A day out on a charter boat, fishing for salmon can get your heart pumping. There are so many fun and unique places you probably haven’t heard of. (Just keep watching Good Day Wisconsin for more ideas)

When we only have a day, or even a couple of hours, and don’t want to waste a beautiful summer day — we head to the beach! For 25 dollars we bought a yearly pass to Wisconsin’s State Parks and THIS is what we got. Blue skies, endless fun in the sand, and some picture perfect moments only 40 minutes from our front door.

A friend asked me on my birthday what my goals are for the future. I asked her if she meant for the year or for my life? She said either. My answer was coastal living. Even though it was only for a couple of hours, I have already reached my goal.

I Left My Child with Strangers

July 6th, 2010 at 10:00 am by under Uncategorized

And she did just fine.
Bella survived her first overnight at camp. In fact, she did better than survive. She was beaming when we arrived at her weeklong “day” camp for a Parents Night program. I had brought along her sleeping bag and pajamas and flashlight but didn’t really think she would want any of it. Both my husband and I fully expected her to come home with us. She doesn’t do sleepovers yet. She even has a tough time at her cousin’s house when we are with her but in a different room. But her counselor said she had been talking about staying overnight all day long. So we helped her set up her cot. We brought along a stuffed animal for her to cuddle. And asked her if she would kindly remember to brush her teeth. It was tough letting go but exciting to see our 8-year-old show some independence. After the program she ran off with her friends and we went home.. still FULLY expecting a call from the camp to go back and get her. No call. No problems. And a “when can I go to camp again!” when we picked her up the next afternoon.

I’d like to send her back today.

A Christmas like the GOOD ol’ days

January 11th, 2010 at 10:05 am by under Uncategorized

The iphone is my new Simon
Not that Simon. (Although that reminds me that American Idol starts tomorrow.)
Do you remember the electronic memory game from the 80′s called SIMON?
I was obsessed with it! I played it over and over and over. Kind of like the Rubik’s cube. Only I was much better at Simon than Rubik’s.
Well anyway, I can’t think of a gift I’ve received since then that brought me so much fun. I get clothes and books and music and things for the house and workout clothes. My sports watch is a neat gadget, and the ipod is awesome. But the iphone with it’s apps has consumed me lately.
It started about a month ago when I searched for word games.
I love BOGGLE. And I found a couple of free apps that have the same concept.
Over the holidays, instead of reading a book, I found myself taking the iphone to bed with me!
I played SCRAMBLE until my eyes melted out of my head.
Over and over and over.
I even dreamed about words and the other words I could make with that word.
Not since the days of Space Invaders have I been so obsessed.

I met up with my college friends over the weekend in NYC.
One of them accused me of being addicted to my iphone.
I only updated my Facebook twice and showed her a couple of neat photo apps.
I mean, that was nothing.
If she only knew about my TRUE obsession and how much time I REALLY spent on my word games.
I was a little embarrassed.
So I kept my iphone tucked away.
Until I was seated comfortably(?) at the airport.. With a MILLION other people zeroed in on their iphones!

A GOOD time to set new goals

January 4th, 2010 at 9:44 am by under Uncategorized

I do it every Monday. And I do it every January 1st. On Mondays I start over on my diet. And on the first of the year I make those crazy resolutions. Crazy, I say, because who really keeps them?

I did one year. Maybe because I wrote them down while a friend was watching.
By the end of the year, when we got together I was so proud at how many I had accomplished. I had set 10 goals. And accomplished most of them. The ones I failed on are the same ones I make every year: lose weight, get organized, get financially fit.

Well I’m making them again. The same ones. Whether I say they are my resolutions or not, they are the three things I want for myself.

And I have one more for 2010. I resolve to blog once a week.

It won’t be easy, but looking over my list, it might be the one that I can actually accomplish.

Good luck to you all! And Happy New Year!

Ask.. and you shall receive GOOD cleaning advice.

November 6th, 2009 at 8:53 am by under Uncategorized

All I said was “Zoe got a hold of a Sharpie marker”. That’s all I needed to say. Moms all over Northeast Wisconsin responded with a “been there” and a helpful hint or two to remove the offending marks.

So here’s a list I compiled from email, voice mail, facebook and actual face-to-face encounters.

WD-40 (which it seems is made from fish oil_
hairspray (cheaper the better)
vodka (the older the better)
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (lots of votes. don’t use on skin)
Zout laundry spray
Rubbing Alcohol
Peanut Butter (for stains on clothes)
Spin n Span
Mom’s Magical Goop
Motsenbockers #3
“Awesome” (at Dollar Tree)

Thank you! And stay tuned… I’ll let you know if it works!

A GOOD reason to get a mammogram.

October 20th, 2009 at 11:32 am by under Uncategorized
Her name is Laurie and she lives on the Lakeshore.. And she has breast cancer.
I met her and her family while I was waiting for my car at Bellin Hospital.
I had just gotten my very first mammogram.
I almost felt guilty for having my “you’re okay!” note in my hand.

The whole ordeal was pretty uneventful.. Until I met Laurie.

She was wearing a pink hat to cover the fact that she had lost her hair.

But what was most memorable about meeting her was her positive attitude.

She told me (in the 4 minutes or so that we talked) that she had originally gone in for a colonoscopy. (If I remember correctly, it was because a family member had been diagnosed with colon cancer.)

After the all clear on the colonoscopy.. Her docs suggested while she was there she should have a mammogram.

And that’s when they found the breast cancer.

Laurie looks like she’s my age. Her kids are older.. Maybe in middle and high school. But my age!

That’s when it hit me .. How lucky I was to have that piece of good news in my hand.

But it was lucky for her, too, that her doctor urged her to get that mammogram.

It actually took me a year to finally do it. My doctor’s office kept calling to remind me and I kept putting it off. I don’t know what I was worried about. I was in and out of there in about 20 minutes. And it DID NOT HURT. I repeat.. DID NOT HURT. Maybe it’s because I breast fed my children.. but it was a piece of cake.

So here’s my October is Breast Cancer Awareness message for you. GET A MAMMOGRAM.

Laurie did.. And it saved her life.

Battle of the gardeners! A GOOD deal either way.

September 23rd, 2009 at 6:40 am by under Uncategorized

And now a story about impatiens. In my previous post I shared a photo of my poor attempt at starting plants from seed. In fact, it looked as if all the impatiens seedlings drowned. Then one day I noticed that something was growing. And check this out. From ONE seed.. I got this an entire container full of pink impatiens.


Just imagine what I can do next year with an ENTIRE SEED PACKET of impatiens seeds!!!

And that is my story of my $1 impatiens.

Along the way Good Day Wisconsin’s executive producer also tried to grow flowers and veggies from seed. You’ll soon read why she failed. You’ll also learn how she found a way to still gardens on a budget.


I also started planting seeds when Rachel did, but I didn’t have the patience to keep up with them.
But to be honest, I didn’t give them the care they needed, plus my dog Lambeau got hungry and ate some of the seeds, dirt and all.
So I decided to scratch the seeds and buy plants with buds already on them, those she stayed away from for the most part, except she did get to a hosta I bought before I got it planted in the ground.
I started enjoying planting when I was in high school, my friend Cara and I got a job at a local greenhouse and learned so much. We worked throughout the winter, ironically, planting seeds. And once spring came, that’s when we got to see all of our hard work come to life, the colors and smells throughout the greenhouse were amazing.
I learned a lot in the many years I worked there, but I also have learned a lot while planting at home.
Here are some of my tips, wait until the end of May and early June to get things planted. This is also safe, considering we get frost sometimes late in May.
Watch for sales, I didn’t buy any plants that were full price.
My best purchase, a flat of impatiens for $10.


Another thing I learned, shop around. I probably bought flowers from 6 different stores and greenhouses.
I also fertilized on a weekly basis, from June through August.
And if you’re planting in large containers, instead of filling it all with potting soil, my dad found some styrofoam for me, so we broke that down and filled the containers about 3/4 of the way and then added soil to the top, so I saved on potting soil and if you have to move the container, it’s much lighter.

GOOD effort. So So Garden.

September 23rd, 2009 at 5:46 am by under Uncategorized

Today is the first day of fall. For many of you .. It’s harvest season. The tomatoes are ripe on the vine! So how did your garden do this year? Were you successful? We expected to see a lot of first time gardeners this year with people trying to save money. First lady Michelle Obama tried to inspire us at the beginning of the growing season by showing off the White House garden. So.. I decided to give it a try. But remember this picture from an earlier blog?


“Diseased” is how horticulturist Mark Konlock described my seeds. But I persevered. I transplanted the good ones. Took some fresh seeds and planted them directly in the ground. And look! Some success! (Despite the efforts of one very annoying rabbit)


I also bought some starter tomato plants from a neighbor with a bright green thumb. $1.25 each and they are amazing. Especially the ones I planted directly in the ground and not in containers. (Yellow Pear on left. Brandywine on right)


So here’s what I learned:

*Gardening takes a lot of time and WATER!!!

*You CAN save $$.

*BUNNIES destroy plants.

*The “fruits” of your labor are very rewarding.