Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Home Tour - Not the Kitchen

It is funny how different things look in photo from how they look in person. My bookshelf is much more fun in person. One of my favorite items (which is hard to see in the photo) is my Halloween tree. I think it is tres cool! We used to make a simple Halloween village up there, but it has given way to many things, like my ravens, nutcracker witch and the fake vintage minipails. The next picture features one of my fun additions - cookie cutters that allow you to make a witch, cat, pumpkin or haunted house that stands up. The recipe is weird, tasty and not good for the cookies, but I aim to try another recipe. I love fun cookie cutters. The formal teak table sports some really fun things. The centerpiece is a tray I made with the paint-your-own-ceramics stuff one year when Natalie and her family came. The kids were young enough that their hands still fit in the space. I then made them look like little frankenstiens. It is labeled "Frankenellie" and "Ethanstein." They love to compare sizes each year. I also have fun, new dishes from Target. I could not decide between the glittery black plastic plates for the ones (more childish) that has a spider web on it. So, I went for two of each. I am hoping there will still be some after Halloween. Eventually I would like less cute stuff, but this is fun, too.
Last night we made Ellie yet another costume. This one is the Watermelon Fairy. It is quite a contrast. This one is Hot Pink and Electric Lime Green, complete with feather boas. She will come with me to Trick or Treat Street at my school this evening and wear it. I am hopeful that the weather on Halloween will cooperate and that she will be able to sport most of her costume. I promise to do a photo shot and show you what I am talking about.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Window Shopping

I love to go and see what the retailers have out for Halloween. Some years there are very clever displays. The florist around here are creative, but many of the other stores were not so Halloweenie. However, here are a few of the fun things I found. The strawberries ghosts are from an upscale chocolate store. They seemed to have dipped them in white chocolate, trailed it out (or maybe even painted it) before it hardened. The eyes and mouths are made of bits of regular chocolate painted on. The items with them are slices of strawberry and marshmallow with chocolate drizzled all over them. I am hoping to have time to do some of these, but I doubt that it will actually happen. Having here on my blog might remind me for next year.

The striped bowl and spider towels were at Crate & Barrel. I thought it was a lot of fun. I have a friend with a totally black and white kitchen. I thought of here when I saw those. I just wanted to hold them and make cookies while stirring with and orange spatula. It feels like "Cat in the Hat" meets Martha Stewart to me.

The place settings are easier to find. I first saw a picture of them in some flyer I got. I cut it out as I thought it would make a fun set of quilt squares. Then I saw these at Sur La Table. I REALLY want these. Of course, with my fetish for dishes, I don't really need them, but when were need and desire companions? I may have to sneak over to the store on November 1 to see if there are any left. That store has great sales. I also saw just the mugs at Border's bookstore. I might have to check there as well.

I am still looking for the link from last year where someone made a "Day of the Dead" table runner. I did a ton of Google searches, but to no avail.

We are off to do yet another remake of Ellie's costume. First she was Ester from the 1930's. It was a wonderful costume, but not her favorite. I told her I thought it would net a lot of candy, being nostalgic for many people. Next it was a scary "Fairy Eater" monster with long, hideous fingers and red nails, complete with a horned skeleton face. Friday at the school party she was the business fairy. I will post a photo of that soon. It was kind of fun. She became the "stocks and bonds" fairy by the end of the night. Now she wants another kind of fairy, one with shocking lime green and hot pink, complete with feather boas.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

If You Don't Like the Weather, Wiat a Minute...

If you follow my blog, you would have seen that last Saturday's race was beautiful. It was mid 70's and clear blue skies. A slight breeze wafted through the park from time to time, just enough to create a pleasant ride. Last Sunday's race was quite a contrast. We woke to 23 degree weather with damp, gray skies. We had expected to find snow, but there was only a dusting up in the mountains. Our race was at 9 a.m. in Evergreen, a nice mountain town about 45 minutes away. I called the grocery store there to inquire about the weather. It seemed their night was more mild than ours had been. As we drove the snow began to fly. The wind wanted to keep pace and began its own show. We arrived early. Some of our friends arrived a bit later, their bikes caked in ice from the sleet that had taken hold of Denver. There they were, minutes before the race, hacking the ice off with tools. One person was clever enough to use deicer. My kids were excited, and a bit nervous. Racing is cold weather with snow and ice is a whole new ball game. They kept bundled until it was time to start. Early on Ellie's leg warmer crept down to her ankle, but she did not have a way to pull it up without loosing time. Ethan fell a few times, but kept going. I was proud of him for that. Each season seems to have a theme for each of my children. For Ethan, it is finding his limits. At the Brecktober race he felt and dropped out of the race once he got to where we were. But end of the race he already felt better and had wished that he had kept going. This happened again at another race. I am sure this time it was a battle to decide - keep racing, or stop. Of course I want him to stop when he needs to, but I think it is also important to know that you can push through some hard things, some levels of pain. By the end of the race they were both happy to be done, but they were also both very charged. Ellie came in second place. Ethan got 8th. I don't know if they really "enjoy" racing in such cold weather, but I do know that they love it. It makes them feel strong, invincible. What a feeling that is! Another junior team setup a two tents side by side and cooked pancakes, bacon and hot cocoa for anyone who wanted it. The place was crowded with happy junior racers and the smell of warm maple syrup. They hope tomorrows race will be a cold one, too.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pumpkin Carving Party 2007

Wednesday was a ton of fun. We had our potluck and pumpkin carving party. We had fewer people than we expected, but it was still a full house. Some could not make it simply because of so much that needed to be done on a school night. Others were consumed with the Rockies game. We didn't mind. We ate, we carved and we even did a bit of silly lipsinking. You can see a photo of Ethan and Ari "singing" a girly love song, " Please don't leave me all by myself..." (by Moby 18). Ethan, ever the lover of fireworks, coated the inside of his pumpkin with powder from some old fireworks. In another picture here you can see when he lit it up. It was a bit of a surprise, but everyone loved it! Ellie carved two pumpkins, but was too shy to let me take close up photos of them. We are lucky to have friends who want to come and share our silly fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Have a little Mud, Some Pine Needles and a Bridge Without Handrails and you have a fun Race

We all have our own ideas of fun. That idea is a bit different for those who race cyclocross. It is a sport that kicks your butt. Saturday's race was at a park by Interlocken. Driving up to it, it looked innocent enough. The course had a sort of hidden underbite, if you will. The start and much of the course was on lovely, squishy almost moss like turf. Great if you are playing soccer, but tough to ride on. This gave way to a small, muddy trickle of a stream that the kids had to cross. The sun was shining and the hills were wet with frost. The muck from the little river made its way up the steep embankment. By the end of the race kids were falling and sliding their way up the hill. No one kid could ride it. This gave way to a scenic stand of evergreen trees which laid out a carpet, about an 1" or 2" thick with pine needles. Some of those needles wanted to tag along and stayed on the bikes. Up and down a few more hills, over a thin strip of a bridge without handrails that crossed over the expanse of a concrete lined ditch. Cyclists worried that they might fall of the side due to wet, slick tires. Thankfully, it was only a threat, no actual falls. At the end of the race they declared it a lot of fun - a cyclist romp in the mud! Ellie came in second and Ethan got 8th. Ellie wished for a podium and a metal, but since it is a series, that did not happen. We will have to see how it all washes out at the end.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pumpkin Carving Party Invitations

For years now we have hosted a potluck and pumpkin carving party. It is a lot of fun. Originally it was a soup and bread potluck. I made unusual squash or pumpkin based soup and make a fun bread. I found during the last few years that I needed to expand what people could bring. I think this will be our 7th year doing our party. The photo here shows some of the invitations I made. The main image is from scrapbooking paper by Rusty Pickle. The images are artsy and wonderful. I wish you could see them better. I attached a silk leave and two silk petals to the corner. The solid shape are those new double sided stickers that are then covered with glitter. I went a bit nuts with them. The thing about me is that you can always tell when I get a new craft "toy." I like the way the cards came out, though they are not my best composition ever. The inside sports a skeleton with a jagged knife. I love the non-cutesy feel of the cards. Tomorrow we set up the house. We will cover all of the tables with tacky cheap, plastic table clothes, set out large bowls for pumpkin guts and arrange our collection of carving tools. Ethan will put together a disc of music. Ellie will muse over the final tweaking of the decorations. By the time our heads hit the pillows we will have a party waiting in the wings. Carve On!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Tom Danielson Awards Ceremony

Ellie had eagerly awaited Friday night. She loves it when she gets to meet celebrities. Tom Danielson is a big one is the world of cycling. The ceremony was wonderful. Basil Docs, a local pizza place that sponsored the series brought in 42 large pizzas and they were gone in under 30 minutes. It was sort of gourmet and very tasty. The flavors had a nice subtle blend to them. My cookies were also a hit. One team is a group of boys go to a boarding school. Apparently they don't get cookies often. Their first time though they were each very thoughtful about which one to take. Later, one by one, they came by and said, "'xcuse' me , mama. Do you think everyone has had a chance to have a cookie?" "Yes." I replied. "Do you want more?" (after a bit of hesitation) "How many different kinds did you make?" I picked out the best of each of the flavors and handed them out in due course. I think all of those boys got a nice number. The favorites turned out to be the ones with chunks of Reese Peanut Butter Cup in them. Our team won many awards. Ellie was happy to receive her metal and thrilled to accept the Junior Woman 10-12 Team award as well. Our team got so many awards that the trophy maker called the organizers to make sure it was not a typo. It was gratifying to see so much support for Junior Cycling in Colorado.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Queen of Cookies

We have a special awards ceremony tomorrow night. I offered to help. One of my duties is acting as the Queen of Cookies. In the last few days the kids and I have made 15 dozen chocolate chip, 2 dozen oatmeal raisin, 2 dozen macadamia nut with white chocolate chip, and 5 dozen peanut butter cookies. We have also made three pans of brownies. My family ate some, note realizing that they were for the event, so I remade some of them. It was nice to be home long enough to make them. One of the evenings a neighbor from many doors down stopped by. Apparently my cookies could be smelled at the end of the block. It has been fun to make them. It has been hard not to eat them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Halloween Home Tour - The Kitchen Edition

About four or five years ago we had an edition put on our house. I went from having a postage stamp kitchen to a wonderful long and wide work space that is connected to a new family room and dining area. One of my most adored features are the little windows that dot the long wall. There are four of them. I have a silly and fun dream to have seasonal decorations to change out every month of the year. I have a long way to go before I realize that fluffy dream, but I certainly have Halloween figured out. And here they are. The goblets came from Dept. 56. Normally I would not have their wonderful stuff. However, the Halloween gods smiled on me two years ago. Sears had ordered a ton of stuff from Dept. 56 and it arrived on the day before Halloween. It went out of the box, got a 90% off sticker, onto the shelf and much of it came home with me. They are actually a lot more interesting in person. I love how they all got together. The corner spot sports Hildegaard, Boo Kitty, a Crow and a cross stitch. Hilde was a wonderful surprise from my dear friend, Natalie. Hilde's sister resides at her house. Hilde is a handmade doll with great details that cannot be fully appreciated in this photo. She has a wand with a cat head and a 1940's style pumpkin for collecting candy. Her dress has tiny black and white triangles. Her hat has a wire with tin stars. She reminds me that I am loved. I used to have more cutesy stuff, but I am finding that I am going more and more towards the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) look these days. This shows up a bit in my dish towels. I wish I had thought to buy more of them so that I could make something with them. Tomorrow (or soon) I will show you another room.
On a totally different note, I wanted to write about Ethan and how proud I am of him. For a long time he has wanted his own laptop computer. We cannot get one for him. This summer he worked hard mowing lawns and save up $440. When we went to the store we found that he could get a computer, but he would have to compromise on what he wanted. He thought he might save up some more. We talked about this at the usually Sunday dinner we have with the grandparents. Grandpa Don took interest and asked lots of questions. Thursday evening he took Ethan out to look again. Grandpa announced that he would "help Ethan out" and agreed to just about match Ethan's money. On Saturday they found that Office Depot was having a screamin' sale and they came home with a Lenovo ThinkPad (IBM). Ethan is absolutely thrilled and feels very important. Larr is proud and is happy to share the computer, too. Ethan's not sure what he will save for next. What ever it will be, I am sure it will be great. Don't you just love it when your kid does something smart or great!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

As much fun as we have biking, rock climbing and such, I must admit that like my time at home, too. This was the first evening at home in oh, about 2.5 weeks. We spent Friday- Sunday at Junior Cyclocross camp up at Snow Mountain Ranch. It was a wonderful, exhausting adventure. The kids had an absolute blast. I spent my time helping make things went smoothly and learning the ins and outs of putting on such a camp. The biggest deal with learning how to score and rank races. I have a large learning curve ahead for me on that skill. Also, my dear friend Beth, the Queen Mother of biking in Colorado has resigned her post as the executive director of the American Cycling Association. Myself and two other people managed to pull off a surprise gratitude ceremony at the end. She could not have been more honored and that is just how I wanted it. Last night we did the last of a midweek race series. Ellie won a pair of tires. Both kids go ice cream certificates. We will miss the series, but I will not miss the 1.5 hour drive each way. This evening I have been making a mountain of cookies and a nice dinner. Here's the main dish:
Honey Mustard Chicken ala Aunt Lynne
2 TBL. Butter
4 Chicken Breasts, cut up (boneless thigh meat works nicely as well)
1/2 cup Apple Juice (or more)
2 TBL. Honey Mustard (I make my own from yellow mustard and clover honey)
3 TBL Peanuts, chopped for a topping
Flour & Chicken Broth to extend gravy
Saute the chicken in butter. Add the honey mustard and the apple sauce. Mix well. Cover and let cook until done. Remove chicken to platter. Add more liquid to make gravy, or thicken what is there with flour.
Goes nicely with rice and edamame.
The photos here are from a quilt I have been working on. I am hoping to add to it this weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

October is FInally Here!!!

I love, no, I adore Halloween. I like the silly decorations, the costumes. I like all of it. This year I celebrate the beginning of the season with some great Halloween prints. Most of them came from the quilt store. I have a batik with orange and black skeletons. I have two kinds of skull fabric. I have cob web fabric. I have glow-in-the-dark fabric. I even have "Day of the Dead" fabric. I kind of kick myself on that one. When the store first had it they had the blue one you see here and several other colors. I regret that I did not buy some cuts of the other "Day of the Dead" fabric when I saw it first. The store had gotten in the shipment in the early summer. I just didn't feel like buying that kind of fabric. I wanted the hot summer colors instead. Oh well, lesson learned.

Some of my inspiration comes from a blog I noticed last fall. Unfortunately I did not have the wherewithall to notice which one. The person made a simple and wonderful table runner with similar fabric. If anyone remembers it, I'd love to see that entry again.

Anyhow, I am still excited for the season. We will start the month out with a blast. We will be a Cyclocross camp in the mountains for three days. We will go from the 85 degree day we have to a drizzly drive and finally to lovely snow. The kids can't wait. Ethan says doing cyclocross in good weather is just plain weird.

I am hoping to get some my cross stitch done while we are there.