Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Salida Omnium Bike Race and Mini Vacation

This past weekend found us in Salida. It is a wonderful, small, artsy town about 3 hours away from where we live. We have friends who allow us to use their historic home as a place to stay. It is just a few blocks away from the ultrafun coffee shop, art galleries and river. We usually go a few times a year. This time Larr had to work so the kids and I had to go without him. We left on Thursday afternoon and arrived just as the sun was setting. I don't like to drive in the dark, but I must admit that the setting sun did make the drive a wonderful experience. Friday we got up a bit early so that we could go to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs and Spa. The hot springs has two pools, one cooler than the other and another pool location that sports a long, wavy slide down the slope of the mountain (really pretty tame, but still loads of fun). There are also river side pools made from arranged rocks. Those were the popular spots with my kids. It was a wild experience since the water rushing by was cold and the sand under your feet was hot. From time to time warm water would emerge from below one of the large boulders. It was a wild experience. We also tried the steam room, but it was a bit much for all of us. Early in the evening we went to do the time trial race. The day had been wonderful and sunny. Imagine how surprised we were when the skies opened up, sending huge rain drops at a furious pace, accented by thunder and lightening. Once the lightening and thunder subsided the kids got to race. By that time the kids were soaked to the skin and it was a brisk 43 degrees. Luckily my kids both had their team bags packed with all of their gear so they were prepared. Ellie and Ethan both love cyclocross so racing in bad weather is fun to them. Ellie was a speedy little thing and came in 3rd place. Ethan was in great form, finishing way before I had expected him to. He came in 5th place in his division even though there was rain and hail. I think he was motivated to get back to the van. We parked next to a storm drain. Somehow he noticed that $10 sat at the bottom of the drain. He wanted to get it before the rain washed it away. He was all a flush when he came back victorious. A construction worker had used his tools to open the grate. Ethan fashion a tool with wood and nails to stab it and pull it up. He was thrilled with his find. It gave a new meaning to "dirty money." :)
Saturday we hung around town. Anna, who was also in town to race, spent the night with us so the girls took off on their own to explore the town with their new found freedom. Ethan also went off on his own to scout out locations to make a zombie film. I had breakfast at the lovely little bakery where everything is made from scratch and by hand. It could not be any better. Then I visited the art galleries and Bead Song. I will post photos of the creations I made there on another day. We were pleased to see that the Bungled Jungle store was still there. We think those folks and their funny creatures are simply great. It is also a place where we can pet a giant grey kitty and a huge standard poodle puppy. The Suter/Burgess clan showed up in the afternoon. Davis, Laura's husband took all of the kids to see St. Elmo while Laura and I made jewelry, shopped and prepared dinner. The kids were all abuzz when they got back home. It seems that there are tame ground squirrels that will let you pet them as they feed off of seeds placed in your palm. What fun ( I will have to go back and do this some day!)

On Sunday we did the criterium races. It was a perfect day, sunny but not too hot. Ellie was again in fine form and came in 4th in that race and 3rd in the overall omnium standings. Ethan started out a bit behind but caught up midway through. He had a goal of beating the kid who had come in before him in the time trial. When he not only caught up to, but also passed that boy he seemed to find new speed. He was thrilled that he came in in the middle of the pack, a bit feat since most of the racers were 17-18 year olds and he is 14. He finished 8th in his division and 6th in the omnium standings. He was pleased with that. During the time that we were waiting for results and the awards ceremony the kids got to try out some of the FELT bikes. Ethan had a bit of bike lust after spending 15 minutes on a $5,000 mountain bike. Ellie went for the cruiser. Who knew they could be so much fun! I had hope to try it out, too, but I ran out of time.
Ellie got a really cool "State Games of the West 2008" medal for her racing. She also received a silly swimming sperm monster from Bungled Jungle as a prize. She thought that was wonderful. We had been cleared to stay until Monday, but decided to head home in hopes of having some time with Larr.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photoshop Final - Blacksheep Flyer

Next Wednesday we will be presenting our final, independent project in class. I wanted to make something that I might actually be able to use so I made a brochure for our bike team. Here's the result. I am not as happy with this front/outer panel as I am with the inner panel. The panel with the logo, the first panel that you would see, is kind of boring. If you happen to have suggestions for improvement I would love to hear it.

I like this section best. It was a killer assignment with a ton of requirements. I will be doing a 15-20 minute presentation on the process and the thinking behind the piece.
This afternoon, after Ethan returns from work, the kids and I will be heading to Salida to spend a few days, do a little bike racing, a bit of gallery visiting, perhaps a little jewelry making and eating of amazing handmade goods ( like crescents) from a little bakery in town. We will be san the computer so I will not be updating this blog until then. However, may everyone feel like it summer time and a chance for a little relaxation!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Mamma Mia!" Movie Fun

Yesterday Ellie and I, okay actually I, decided that we needed to escape the extreme heat that has been sweeping our state. I am simply tired of being H-O-T! Even at night it is still HOT! A movie seemed in order and Connie told me that I would really enjoy "Mamma Mia!", the movie based on songs by ABBA. And boy was she right. It was SO MUCH fun. Ellie had us sit in the very back. She said that she wanted to see what it was like to be at the very top. I think she secretly knew that I would have to sing along to all of the songs and instead of pleading me to not sing, she simply seemed to plan for it. The average age in the theater had to be about 65+, so her cool factor was not in danger of being spoiled by her dorky mother who loves to sing along with songs she knows. I think the movies that are made from a series of songs in simply genius. Oh and can I tell you, I think this is my absolutely my favorite role for Meryl Streep. What an actress she is. Just compare this to "Sophie's Choice." You could tell she loved it, too. You can bet I will see this one again. Oh, and yes, how nice it is that I already have most of the music on my IPOD. It is a total middle-age chick flick (not that I actually feel middle aged, even at 43. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kayaks, Fish, Fun & Flags - A Whole Lot Goin' On

Last weekend we had a ton of fun. We were all off from school and work on Friday so we went to Evergreen lake. We went fishing and kayaking. We borrowed two kayaks for the weekend and had a good time. Ethan wanted to use his new fishing pole so he spent most of his time on shore. The man next two us was having great luck and Ethan was not. However, after packing up and heading to the car Ellie asked to stop and fish for just a few seconds while Dad was on the phone. Wouldn't you know that they both had luck at that spot? Ethan says it is such a rush to catch a fish. They both got rainbow trouts that were about 10" long. Later that night he processed them . Later I tried to debone them and then made a nice meal with the catch. It was a thrill for the kids.

Saturday they both did the Bob Cooke Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb. It was an important race. It is a long, mountainous hill climb for the juniors it is 11.1 miles to the finish line. Ethan did amazingly well and finished at 1:09, about 20 minutes faster than I expected him to. He came in 17th. He was happy with his results. Ellie had a harder time. She was stung in the head by a bee and she fell over. By the time she reached the finish line she was really finished. She came in 4th, but was not happy with that standing. I am still so impressed that they can do it at all. People plan vacations around this hill climb. At the race there were people from many states racing. We left that event and went to a wedding in Conifer. It was a lovely spot for a wedding. We missed the ceremony but enjoyed the reception. I don't really know them so it was hard to know what to give them. I went to the store where they were registered and could not afford any of the things on the list. I chose to take the colors that showed up over and over , using those to make a framed photo mat for a picture from their wedding. I was happy with how it came out. We stayed for a while and then went to the Boy Scout camp out at Bear Creek Lake park. The kids fished more, this time with other scouts, and we kayaked more. Later that night the boys retired a flag. That was kind of cool. We have a n awesome leader, Gary, who just finished Woodbadge training. At his training he got ashes from flag retirements from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and Vietnam. There were also other important ashes mixed in. Each scout place a piece in the fire. The next day Gary took much of the ash to share with the boys. They feel connected to these important events by honoring our nation and our flag in this way. The camping was hot and sunny, but we still had fun. Next up, we go to Salida for a weekend of racing. Until then I am working on my Photoshop final and trying to spend time with the kids before I go back to work in two weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Of Fears,Bravery and Zip Ties.

One of the wonderful things about our children, once they become old enough, is that they discover a style all their own - as long as we allow them the space to do so. As a mother, it is sometimes hard to prevent letting our ideas of what our children are or are not influence who they become. Many of those surprises are wonderful one, though they take some getting used to. When Ethan was younger he was a somewhat cautious kid. He still had fun, and he was no reserved, but he was not a thrill seeker either. I would have never guessed that he would be interested in mountain biking but when our team started a mountain biking component he was one of the first ones in. On Tuesdays they have practice. Since he is new to mountain biking he does not wear clip in shoes, or rather, he did not at the beginning. Then the got a bit more comfortable and started using them. Apparently he is prone to unclipping and putting his foot down often. He coach, in an effort to help him face and defeat this fear of fall, has elected to try and keep Ethan's foot on the pedal by using a zip tie to make it stay in place. This made him anxious but he still went to practice and allowed the coach to do it. The zip ties reminded him that he was pulling his foot off, but it also allowed him to remove his foot. Next week they will use industrial zip ties. I am proud of Ethan for facing this fear and pushing past it. I appreciate the fact that he can trust his coach and work on this. Once he conquers it, it will make him stronger, not just on the bike, but in general, too.

Ethan is not the only one facing up to a fear. About a week and a half ago the kids went to a day clinic on criterium racing. They had a wonderful time, until Ellie had her crash. She said it was all fun, even crashing. She was in an all out sprint when something happened and she flipped over her handlebars. Since one foot was still clipped in it flipped, too. She said it was like a slow motion movie. She knew she was going to crash. She remembers flying and flipping over the handlebars while the bike made a similar arch. Once she hit the ground she, and the bike, must have slid sideways across the pavement. She describes it as a glorious crash. The kids say it looked like gymnastics with a bike. The younger kids were upset. At the race the next day some of the younger ones did not want to race because they feared that they would crash like she did. Seeing her at the race, supporting and cheering on her team mates, they seemed to fee better, too. Wouldn't you know that the one time she has a serious crash, that I was not there? I actually think that was best. The person who was the medic on duty has two sons who are VERY serious bikers, so he knows how to deal with these kinds of injuries. When Ellie called me she was calm. I questioned her a few times when she said I should go and pick her up. She did not sound upset at all. Once I got there I found her bandaged, gauzed and looking like quiet a sight. She had a hole in her elbow that was large enough to put a small gumball in it. She had road rash on her arm, her hip, down her leg and knee and her finger. It was pretty bad. The skin had been ground off to a point of making the finger look kind of flat. She had to take it easy for a few days. She could not fully bend or straighten her arm, leg or finger. It was difficult to sleep the first few nights. By Wednesday she was ready to give it another go. Since then she had healed at an amazing rate. The hole on her elbow is no longer a hole. The road rash has turned to fresh, new pink skin and everything can both straighten, as well as bend, fully. While her fear was different than Ethan's I am still proud that she could get back onto the bike and go full speed ahead.

What wonderful, amazing children we have. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The University Panini

On Monday Ellie and I joined her best friend, Christy, and her mom, Connie for birthday shopping for Christy. Her uncle sends her spending money and the birthday or Christmas shopping trip is always fun. We visited a few toy stores and an Artisan Gallery. Then we had lunch at Whole Foods. We each got something different. I was really torn between the roasted veggie sandwich which sported basil pesto mayo and the University sandwich. I could have been happy with either one. Here's how to make it:

The University Sandwich

Focaccia bread, split for a sandwich
Fig Spread (like jam - really wonderful!)
Turkey (thinly sliced, at least two layers)
Brie Cheese ( you can leave the wax on)
Field Green.

Put the Fig spread on both pieces of bread. Next, place a the turkey, making sure there is a place where there are at least two layers. Next, slice the Brie into thickish (1/2"?) pieces and place on the turkey. At this point the sandwich can be heated as you would for a grilled sandwich or a paninia. Open the sandwich back up and place the field green between the layers of turkey. Enjoy!

We are otherwise rather busy. It seems amazing to me how the day fills up and at the end I got very little of my "to do" list completed. I guess it is because I am more of a Taxi these days than anything else.

This morning when I went for my usual bike ride I had just gotten over the warm up part when I got a flat. I pulled out my fancy air cartridge and filled it a bit, just enough to get to some shade. I then proceeded to attempt to fix my tire. This was nearly like a Monty Python skit. I got the wheel off from the back of the bike and the tire off of the rim but from there I was lost. I could not find the hole. I went to put on my spare and found that it was the wrong size. I also could not remember which order things went in to reassemble it. In the end I had to call my son and wake him up . He rode his bike (in his P.J.'s ) to where I was. He brought a proper tire, fixed my flat and we were on our way home. Thank goodness he was home!

Ellie had a friend over and they went for a bike ride. Anna's stepmom works at a shop a few miles away. They rode over to see her. She gave the girls some cash. The girls rode their bikes to the Starbucks by Sloan's Lake and enjoyed a bit of morning refreshments while people watching. Later they came home and watched "Penelope." Then they went to a braided jewelry class a the local library. It was the last of the teen sessions. Ellie really enjoyed them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Coconut Shrimp with Mango and Calypso Blend Pasta

At a recent trip to the local farmer's market we bought some pasta from a really fun vendor who also happens to have stores and an online option. It was a tough choice to pick just one or two things since they have three tables full of options. In the end I selected the Calypso Blend pasta because it looked fun and had a great recipe pairing. The pasta comes from Pappardelle's: The Fine Art of Pasta. The different shapes of pasta have different colors. I think the large orange shells are Mango-Peach, the rusty red ones are paprika, red chili and cumin while the green ones are lime. The flavors are subtle and wonderful. They a such a change from the usual egg noodle.

Here's the recipe from the Pappardelle's:

Calypso Blend topped with Coconut Shrimp and Mangoes
1 lb. Pappardelle’s Calyspo Blend Pasta
2 fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 cup light coconut milk
½ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
Garnish: 2 mangoes, peeled and finely diced

1. In a mixing bowl, combine jalapenos, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, coconut milk, basil, olive oil and salt. Add the shrimp and let marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

2. After shrimp have marinated, heat a nonstick pan over high heat and add just the shrimp, leaving the marinade behind. Or you can also grill the shrimp for a smokier flavor. Cook shrimp until done, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked shrimp to a plate. Add the reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and rinse with cool water. Place in serving bowl and mix in a teaspoon of olive or canola oil to prevent pasta from sticking.

4. Pour coconut marinade and cooked/grilled shrimp over pasta. Mix well. Serve in pasta bowls and garnish each bowl with mango and a drizzle of lime juice.Serves 6

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cherry Creek Arts Festival 2008 - Birds

Here are a few more wonderful pieces I enjoyed while at the festival. I think the artists that I enjoyed the most (though this is hard to say since most of them were so interesting and engaging!) were the husband and wife team that create clay works, such as this statue. They make the statues out of clay and one it has dried enough they texture the birds with household brushed such as a vegetable scrubber, an old tooth brush, etc. The ravens each had such a strong personality. You could tell they loved what they made. I hope they did brisk business.
This artist was also delightful. I appreciated her minimal style, one that I could not do.
I love this one because of all of the color and fun energy it exudes.
These are really interesting in person. The artist puts down paint and then pulls some of it back off with things like newsprint, cellophane, etc. It has a great textural quality that does not come through here.
This one has some lovely subtleties that don't come through in this photo. It is a great use of mixed media that has balance.
I love these for the fun colorful energy that they have.
I will add links soon.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Cherry Creek Arts Festival 2008 - Metals

I was able to take lots of wonderful photos at the arts festival. I will post the links that I have some time soon. Hope you enjoy them, too:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fourth of July

We have a grand time on the Fourth of July. Here are a few of the fun things we did. We made special cupcakes. Ellie came up with the fun idea of melting candy melts, dipping marshmallows in them and then rolling them in holiday sprinkles. Then we found these fun picks from Wilton. They were a hit. In the morning we did the Bicycle Parade in the Grandparent's neighborhood. It is a ton of fun. We decorate bikes, wagons, scooters, (or what every you like). We play patriotic music while following behind an old and wonderful fire truck. After several rounds we end at Molly's house for lemonade, Popsicles, little prizes, fire truck rides and a water hose fight.

We also make fun decorations. Here are the flowers that Ellie and I made for Grandma Gay's Party.

One of my favorite parts is getting to pet a new crop of dogs. This one is a Golden Doodle ( a mix between poodle and Golden Retriever). Her name is Sadie and she is so soft. I may have to have one some day.

We also had dinner with our friend, Karen. Then we headed over to Dave and Cleo's house for another BBQ and fireworks. We also went to the art festival, but I will save that for another day.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Taken This Broken Wing and Learn to Fly...

This morning was a great day to see flowers and dogs during my bike ride. I rode down to North Cherry Creek. I usually go to Whole Foods and have something to drink then head back home. Today there seemed to be a fire on the roof of the building. The alarm was sounding, the employees were in the parking lot and the fire hoses were connected to the fire hydrant. I skipped that scene and rode around looking at the preparations for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival that will happen this weekend. Along the way I got to pet a Harlequin Great Dane, a geriatric poodle and a set of cocker spanail puppies. The flowers were in all their glory, especially the mums and those in the daisy family.

I thought you might be interested in seeing what is happening in my PhotoShop CS3 class. Here is my midterm project and most of the photos I used to get there. The class is still kicking me in the butt, but it is getting easier. It is a rendition of "Blackbird" by The Beatles. Creating it was sort of like trying to sew in the wind. I knew where I wanted to go artistically, but not knowing the progrma as readily I a wish I did made the process clunky. I still enjoyed it although it was difficult and I did not end up with what I wanted. I do like what I ended up with.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pit Master "Bubba" & Star Struck

We have some friends who used to live in Chicago, but now live here. Denise and Peter are theater folk. Kennedy, Denise's daughter, goes to AVS with my kids and she is also a coach on our bike team. One of the most fun things about Denise is her love of cooking. When you eat at her house you always enjoy what is being served. This summer she decided to have a go at a BBQ contest. Thus, she is working on her recipes and needed some feedback. Lucky us, we were invited to critique her food. Her specialty is smoking just about anything you can think of. And she likes her stuff H-O-T! In Chicago she earned the nickname, "Pit Master Bubba." This time around was amazing and wonderful. She made four smoked chickens that had nice of tenderness and smokiness. The three racks of ribs were popular, too. She covered them with a smear of Dijon mustard and a secret spice mix she creates. Next up were the baked beans she finished in the smoker. They were lovely, too, but a bit spicy. Once I had those I had to wait for my palette to clear. It only took three glasses of water to get there. Okay, where were we? Oh yes, there were spicy deviled eggs, but not being an eggy sort I skipped those. Next was the smoked brisket with homemade BBQ sauce. It was Ethan's favorite because of the flavor. Denise decided that it would have to go back to the drawing table as it was too dry. I have to say, I agreed with her on that. Next was my favorite, the special secret Smoked Mac'n'Cheese. This bad boy has nothing to do with the stuff in the blue box. This one was made with two very adult type cheese, assembled and finished in the smoker. It was velvety, with about three layers of flavor, each cheese being distinct in turn. Finally we had Pulled Pork Sandwiches with a vinegar based sauce and a coleslaw with a Denise flavor signature. I never knew that the proper way to eat a pulled pork sandwich was to start with a bread base, add the meat, dribble on some sauce on and top it with the cole slaw. It was WONDERFUL and hands down, the favorite. It was a flavor treat. You would have the texture of the meat and the smokey aroma meat your mouth first. Then the zip of the sauce and finally the cool crunchiness of the slaw. Oh man! I've included some photos here, along with my friends Laura (with Soji) and Anna (with Tilly.) Steven, the little boy who lives there was a bit enamoured and confused since the dogs are little and extremely soft. He was thinking he needed to "meow" at them.These are the same pups that we camped with. As you can see, Soji knows how to "ham" it up for the camera.

Monday Ellie begged and convinced me to take her to meet singer Natasha Bedingfield. She, along with The Veronicas and Kate Voegele were signing poster and greeting fans. Ellie had hoped to win tickets. It was fine with me that we did not win any. She had on her pants from the "Panic at the Disco" concert and asked the ladies to sign them. It makes her feel zippy. She called her friends and told them that she met someone famous.

That evening my son granted a small wish of mine and made the first backyard fire of the season. We celebrated by making some Jiffy Pop Popcorn and enjoyed the sounds of nature.