Saturday, September 29, 2007

Boulder Cross Race #1 & Celestial Seasonings Plant Tour

The race the kids today will most likely become their favorite of the cyclocross season. The weather was perfect, the course was technically challenging and a whole lot of fun. Ellie came in 3rd. The results in Ethan's group are still pending due to an issue with numbers and ranks. After the race and the practice we toured the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder. That is where these photos were taken. It was fun, as usual. What is new is another few flavor (Acia something) that we really like. Also, they are changing their logo. I was the new look and it is good, but I will miss the sleepytime bear. Also, they have changed some of the lovely paintings. I think the cute outs are gone, but I am only guessing. It will make finding some of my favorites a bit difficult since the kids simply look for the pictures. I am just not good at dealing with change. It was a wonderful day.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Borders Book Store: Teacher Event & I Win a Prize

This picture is another poster from the Dog Tooth Coffee Shop in Colorado Springs. It is a bit too cutesy for my house, but I really love the design elements present. I like how the background was dissected and the combination of stripes and polka dots. You gotta love polka dots! I included it because I thought you might enjoy it, too.

This evening I went to the special event Border's Books was hosting for teachers. You could get anything (except magazines) for 25% off. They also had fun samples from Seattle Coffee and some raffle prizes. I won and got to select something. It was hard to pick. There were posters, a jelly belly dispenser, a neat Harry Potter book bag with books young kids would like, some informational books on things like space travel or Egypt. I select the lovely gift bag from Seattle Coffee. I won a big bag of coffee beans, a really nice travel mug, a ceramic mug, chocolate covered espresso beans, coffee house mints and a really fun container of gum. I thought it was the best gift. I am actually (okay well, mostly likely) going to save most of it as a present for my mother. She loves good coffee, but never buys it for herself. I am very tempted to keep the travel mug. In the winter I have tea on my way to work. Right now I use my Celestial Seasonings cups. I am very happy with them, so we will see what I will do. Maybe if I leave all but the gum and mints in the bag, I will be less tempted. I am going to have the gum. It comes in a really fun tall, round tin that has a fun graphic on the inside of the lid. You see I have this silly love of containers. I sometimes buy mints just for the box. If you sat at my desk at work you might think I was a gum and mint freak. They are actually filled with paper clips (plain, colored and striped - each in their own box, of course). A few have other odds and ends. I was also oh so very tempted by the wonderful Halloween cards. They had two that I almost bought. Now I really wish I had. My absolute favorite is one with long elegant witchy legs wearing striped leggins, fun boots and a black cat. She has a great skirt on that is glittered. You can see it at the Papyrus Online shop. I does not look like much in the photo, but it is so much fun in real life. I think I would display it at school and make a quilt in its likeness at home, complete with layers of tulle and glitter. If you follow the link you will also find a fun cat made from a patterned paper. As I write this, I think it was sort of silly to not get them. At the time it seemed kind of silly to buy myself some cards. I usually get one or two great ones in the mail each year. We will have to see what happens this year. Oh the temptations.
Okay, enough chatter - I have to go cook now. Happy prehalloween plotting and dreaming!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Emily Assemblage

I am trying out a new camera. I am not sure if I will keep it, but it does look promising. It is a Kodak EasyShare. I selected it because it has a 12x optical zoom, a sports setting ( = ability to take successive photos quickly) and it was in my price range. Since it was on sale it was $200. I will also try out a fancy camera that our coach bought on one of his trips to Tokyo. It was $400 US last year. It has a lot of fun features, but it is only the size of a cell phone and I am not sure I will be able to manipulate everything on it the way I would need to at a race. Also, it is not sold in the US, which means I could not get it serviced. I will give them both a try and see what I think.
So, the photo here is a gift I made for our friend Emily upon her 11th birthday. It was a lot of fun to make, but much harder than I expected. I put a cloth dress on her. Getting that to look right was a challenge. Also, making the flowers stand up was a bit hard. I hope she likes it. When looking for inspiration I learned that this kind of thing is an assemblage, and not a multimedia collage (as I had thought). Figuring out the right term was a bit tricky, too.
We are hosting a dinner party on Saturday evening for the people my husband climbs with. One person, Suzanne, will be returning to the South Pole some time next week. We will miss her until next summer. Here's what I am making. It is hardy and popular. You can make it ahead of time and enjoy the party while it cooks. When it is compiled it weights a lot.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole For a 13" x9" pan
12 corn tortillas
2-3 pounds of chicken (cut into chunks)
2 pounds Cheddar, Colby or CoJack cheese, shredded
1 large can Stoke's Green Chili w/ Pork
1 small can Mild Enchilada Sauce (red, mild)
1 small can Medium Enchilada Sauce (can the size of soup cans)
1 can diced Green Chilies (small can)
1 small-medium Onion, chopped
1-2 Garlic Cloves, mashed
2 cups Sour Cream (or 1 small container)
1 small can Jalapenos, diced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9"x13" pan.
Saute the chicken with a little salt, the onion, green chilies and garlic. You can add a small bit of olive oil, if you like. Cook until the chicken is done and the onion is limp.
Mix the Stoke's green chili sauce with the enchilada sauces and heat.
To prepare the casserole by assembling the layers as such:
3 corn tortillas spread along the bottom
Chicken mix
scoop or so of sauce
bunch of cheese
repeat this two more times.
Top with 3 corn tortillas
Place the completed casserole on a cookie sheet or something else to protect from bubbly overflow.
Cool for 15 min. before serving. Offer the sour cream and the jalapenos on the side for those what want them.
Enjoy - it is a big hit at our parties.
Bake until bubbly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eulogy for My Digital Camera

This little bit of eye candy has no actual connection to my topic of the day, but I loved it and so I thought it was worth sharing. It is found in the Ladies room at Dog Tooth Coffee in Colorado Springs. I love the small touches of the polka dot material in an otherwise very minimal style. I adore this kind of art, but can't seem to create it myself as I just don't always seem to know where to stop. The bathroom was basically fashioned around the colors of this poster. I loved that idea.

Today my camera died. :( Actually, I am not sure if it is the camera or the battery. Either way, I believe that it has taken its last photo. We were at a really fun, semi-muddy race when it refused to keep its shutter open. Poor little thing tried, but it just wouldn't stay open. I can't really complain. We've had it for at least 4.75 years and have taken thousands upon thousands of photos with it. I know that I've taken over a thousand at just bike races this season so far. I will try another of my backup batteries before I declare it totally deceased.

So now I am learning a new language, the language of digital camera-speak." You know ISO?" "How about optical zoom versus digital zoom..." and so on. There are so many sources of information for suggestions that it will take a while to digest it all and figure it out. Any suggestions? I am presently leaning towards a Canon. I hear their cameras are great for fast moving action shots - like kids on racing bikes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's a Beutiful Day In Colorado

It was a perfect day in Colorado today - not too hot, cold, windy, etc.
So we took in a cyclocross race and went rock climbing. The race course was very technical, but a whole lot of fun, too. It had several steep hills that many kids had to run up. Some would try to ride up them and end up spinning their wheels. I was proud of both of my kids. They were awesome. I was not sure Ethan would race. After all he had his no- sleep party Friday night and did not get to bed until after nine on Saturday. He was not in top form, but he still came in seventh. Ellie ran a hard race and earned a nice second place metal. She has quite the collection of them these days.

Next we headed down to Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs to go rock climbing. I had high hopes of sitting comfortably in my camping chair and working on my cross stitch, but I was too engrossed in watching the rest of my family, and my brother in law and nephew climb, so I got little done. The dog had fun, too. There were so many new smells and dogs to meet. I think she has new material for dreams for quite a while.

I do hope to get some crafting done some time soon. I began to work on an assemblage in a shadow box frame for Ellie's friend's birthday. I will post on that as soon as there is something to show and tell about.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rejoining the Blogging World

I've been away for so long that it is hard to know where to begin. I guess it is best to begin with the idea that the signs of fall are beginning to appear and with it, a more consistent rhythm of life. One that will allow me to be home a bit more. The end of summer was a wonder, fun and exhausting whirlwind of biking, going to the mountains, and stuff like that. It has been and will continue to be made busy and unpredictable with that which comes when someone you love is in the hospital. My aunt has had a difficult time dealing with the deal of her beloved husband, Joe. He died in April. Her recovery will take a long time. But I will not elaborate so that she may still have her privacy. It seems that I am sort of in that Sandwich Generation spot, and have been for a few years now. I am learning to do it with some grace.

But on another note -

When I came home today my house smelled of fall, even though we are having near record heat with almost 90 degree days. My house smelled of the concord grapes that were lolling in a bowl on the dinner table. We have a small grape vine covered walk way on the side of the house. When they are ripe it is a contest between the squirrels and ourselves to see who will get to them. This year we got more than most years. The smell is enticing. I think it would make a wonderful new scent for the places that sell lotions and candles. Behind me was a gaggle of teenage boys, my son included, all reved up for a sleepover video game fest in honor of Ethan's 14th birthday. The kids are great, they all are looking forward to having a lot of fun and my biggest concern is whether I will have enough food with seven pizzas, 36 soda and enough chips to fill several grocery sacks. We also have two containers of ice cream (vanilla bean and mint chocolate chip) to go along with the pumpkin pies that Ethan wanted for his "birthday cake." Many kids have brought their gaming consoles and televisions. My basement room is stuffed with ten boys, two brave girls, five televisions and who knows how many gaming systems. I have relative peace that allows me the luxury of surfing blogs (my version of "vegging out.") I love the food blogs. Hogwash is always wonderful. As is Cooking with Amy. Her 9/14 entry has an enticing entry about wonderful sandwiches:

From Cooking with Amy 9/14/07

I'm always tempted to stop by Arlequin for a toasted cheddar, pear and bacon sandwich. The bread is crispy and crunchy, the cheese oozes and the sweetness of the pear is offset by the smoky saltiness of the bacon. Taking that sandwich as inspiration I decided to add mustard to my version. I was sure the warm spices including cinnamon, clove and cayenne in the mustard would really be delicious with the pear but I didn't want the intensity of bacon for this sandwich. After experimenting a bit, the combination I settled on was smoked turkey, white cheddar and pear. Smoked turkey is a good sandwich choice, it adds some heft and lean protein, and is healthier than ham or bacon.

I'm thinkin' I have to try this one. I also want to try and make the candy treat that I have pictured above. The base is a small square pretzel .The middle is a Rolo (chocolate covered Carmel) that has been placed on the pretzel and heated slightly in the microwave. Then you take a pecan and press it onto the top. Sounds simple enough and they are SSSOOOOO GOOOD!

Another fun thing is that not only is my craft room table finally cleared and they have fun stuff in the dollar spot at Target. I found items that I wanted when I saw them at the scrapbooking store for around $7-$10 per package for a mere $1 here. I had to have some. It was very satisfying to lay out the lovely letters. I am kind of a fontaholic, as I have been told. These sets cried out to go home with me. What could I do but buy as many as I could? Who knows yet what I will do with them. I also had to have two containers of felt flower shapes as well as the brads with fun designs on them. I am crazy for this stuff! Now I just need to make time to use some of it!