Friday, August 29, 2008

Suddenly Baby Squirrels in Need Arise

Lately baby squirrels have been a minor theme passing through my life. I don't know if I just didn't notice them before, or if more baby squirrels are in need this year than before, but I am taking notice now.I am sorry to say that the sweet baby that I showed you a while back did not make it. She seemed to be doing better, but then she seemed to either have a seizure or a heart event. In one day she went from vibrant and curious to lethargic and apathetic. She went from demanding to be feed as often as possible to not eating anything. Midge tried to nurse her back to health but the baby girl squirrel died. Midge and James were so sad. They had already drawn up plan for her cage and how to release her in the spring.

On Tuesday my friend Judy's dog, Dinky, was going NUTS in her backyard. When she went out there she found the larger baby squirrel you see in these photos. Being an animal lover, she scooped him up to feed him and warm him up. After doing research she planned to try and reunited the baby with its mother, only the mother appears to be gone or dead. She brought the sweet creature with her to school. The kids loved it and wanted it to be a school mascot. I knew that Judy did not have room in her life for another thing so I hooked her up with James and Midge. They were thrilled to have a chance at raising this little guy. (He is most likely about 3-4 weeks old and has a good chance at surviving.) When I went to talk with them about it I found out that they already had the smaller one pictured. James thinks he was either pushed out of the nest or the nest was attacked. It is most likely less than a week old. It will be a wild and furry time at their house. I am happy to have a chance to see them grow but not have to take care of them myself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fragrant Beef with Noodles Recipe & a DNC Tease

I love to read cookbooks like a novel. I do enough cooking that I can sense the sights, tastes and aromas of most of the recipes I read. I particularly loved reading Apples for Jam. We have tried out a few of the recipes and I have checked it out from the library three times now. Pretty soon they are going to demand that I give it back. I may eventually break down and buy this one. The recipe cards above are for a dish she calls "Spaghetti with Ground Beef." I renamed it here since that reminds me of Spaghetti with Marinara sauce. The recipe is easy, keeps well, makes the house smell wonderful and is very tasty. Both kids loved it. I hope you do, too. If you want to see the recipe better simply click on the card. That should pull up a larger version of them.

On an entirely different note, Ethan went with some friends to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and had a grand time. He was lucky enough to attend the concert which featured bands like the Flobots, Rage Against the Machine and two others. He also took part in a protest march put on by Iraq Veterans Against War. Ethan has great stories and a few photos that I hope to share in my next post.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fall Hammer In - Archer, Wyoming

When my colleagues and I were talking about our plans for the weekend last Thursday I told them that Ethan and I were going to Wyoming to do some blacksmithing. One of the new members of our department thought I was joking. Another laughed and told me she loved me because I am so random. I am not quite sure why my answer was random, but I will take the odd compliment.

Ethan is in that stage of his life where his growing up physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc. seems set on hyper speed and I'm likin'it. Last Wednesday he packed nearly everything we would need in the van without my asking. This is the first time he has done that. In the past I had to talk him into helping me get ready to take him to a camp. And I'll tell you, he did a great job. When came home after school on Friday we just had a few last things to pack and we were on our way. This time we also stopped by to pick up Tom, one of Ethan's favorite friends. Tom had never done anything like blacksmithing so we hoped that it would be a treat for him. We pulled into the Lamarie County Fair Grounds as they sun was just setting. The huge tent was set up and Jim's RV was parked near it. We pulled up, greeted them, got our spot picked out and began to get set up. Earlier in the season we had sent out our tent pole to get fixed. You can imagine my surprise when I found that we had forgotten to put them back into the bag. Luckily Ethan could bunk with Tom in his tent and I could sleep on the floor of the van since we had taken out a seat to make room for Ethan's forge. I spent most of the evening talking with Jim about Flickr groups and photoshop or digital photography manipulation techniques. I was really wishing I had my computer so I could give HDR a try. I was also pleased to find that a lovely kitty, Clinker, lived on the land and he was happy to be held. IN fact, at about 3:00 a.m. I heard a funny sound on the van. I woke, a bit startled, to find a furry little face staring at me, hoping I would let it in. I invited Clinker in and we slept together for the rest of the night. I loved having him curled up next to me, purring away. He even did the paw neading thing that kitties do when they are happy. At home the cats are not allowed up stairs, so it was a treat for both of us.

Saturday Ethan and Tom had a grand time. Jim and Levi (pictured above) were very helpful. Levi (the guy with the fish shirt) sold Ethan his forge. He worked on it a little more to improve how it operates. He also shared knowledge and encouragement. Jim (the guy hammering) was also very helpful and encouraging. I love how wonderful all of the blacksmiths are. They never talk down or never discourage you, regardless if you are 14, 30 or 80. I have yet to meet a blacksmmith that is not a lovely person. Ethan turned an old railroad spike into a hardy tool, a thing that he can put on his anvil and use in a saw you might use scissors on paper. He also made a bunch of handmade nails. A local guy also helped both Tom and Ethan make knives, but Ethan's burned up in the fire. Tom's made it home safely. I think Tom had a good time, too. He seemed more interesting in helping Ethan tend the forge than actually working with the metal.

While the boys hammered I went shopping at the Sierra Trading Post Outlet store.We don't have those in Colorado, but I always have luck when I happen to get to go there. This time I scored big. I have a HARD, HARD,HARD time finding and affording shoes for myself. My Berkinstock Clogs were purchased the winter before Ethan was born. I have had them resoled and fixed a number of times, but they were showing their age. I just could not stomach the $250+ to replace them. Can you image how excited I was when I found the perfect pair, brand new, and they rang up at $45? I also scored a pair of tennis shoes, of sorts. Again, with my wide hobbit-like feet finding closed shoes that fit is a trick. I found lovely ones by Teva (who knew they made more than sandals) that worked well. The original price was $180. I got them for $35. I also picked up a pair of jean painter style pants for Ellie for a whopping $3.50. Ethan got outfitted with four shirts and a pair of pants. Those were all screaming deals as well as the pants I got for Larr. When I returned it was nearly dinner time. I advantage of a bit of down time to go for a bike ride. It was lovely. There was a light, cool breeze and the skies were ablaze in shades of pink and orange. I rode on the washboard bumpy dirt road until I got to the paved road that ran parallel to the fair grounds. It was a fun ride, but a bit unusual as I sped past five large, lazy snakes (most likely bull or corn snakes) that looked like chunks of striped ribbon on the road. They had slithered out onto the clean, warm road. They did not even seem to notice when I rode by. You can bet that I went well around those big boys. Jim's wife made everyone a lovely dinner which was appreciated by all. She made most of the stuff from scratch, including several loaves of pumpkin bread and a chocolate caramel whipped cream cake.

Sunday we thought the boys would go at it again but they were too dogged tired to do any blacksmithing. We mostly packed up the van, BSed with the guys, went to Levi's house to buy a stand jack and then we headed home. Ethan and Tom took advantage of the fact that you can buy and fire off many firecrackers in Wyoming. We stopped by one of the stores. Ethan made a few purchases and they had a great, noisy time shooting them off. By the time we got home I was wiped, too. We enjoyed a Grandma Eleanor cooked meal while we watched the Olympic closing ceremony. It was quite a show.

It was a lot of fun, but I am hoping we stay home next weekend. I think we have been on an adventure nealy every weekend of the summer. Approaching fall with change that soon enough.
Monday it was back to normal, back to work...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chasing the Tails of Summer and Eye Candy for the Food Lover

Some of the fun from reading other people's blog is seeing what links they have on their sidebars.(As much as I love them, I have not updated my own in a while.)Anyhow, I came across an amazing one, Foodgawker on another blog. I think it might have been on the Confessions of a Pioneer Woman blog (wonderful blog by a really fun woman. Lately my life has been such that I have not had time to cook much. It has been rudimentary stuff like homemade burritos made in huge batches and frozen or a quick spiffed up tuna salad that my family thinks is magic. My own bags from Mountain Bike camp are still in the middle of the kitchen. I simply have not been home long enough to deal with them. So I digress again, anyhow, Foodgawker both fuels my fire to want to cook and it lets me wait a bit. If you like to cook, or at least appreciate pretty food presentation, you have got to check it out. This weekend we are off to the Fall Hammer In for a weekend of Blacksmithing so cooking in my own kitchen will have to wait.

If you read my blog often you will see that we are very busy folk. Right now we seem to be extra busy. I feel like we are chasing the tails of summer as we can see fall creeping in. We could smell it in the air when we went for a hike at South Park near Ken Caryl. You catch glimpses of it in the early morning as it nips you when you wake next to the open window. Mother Nature showed up her whims last Saturday when we had all four seasons in one day. Summer is still here for a while, but fall is visiting, too. So we hike as often as possible. We seem to have big plans for every weekend. That is just how it goes. We try to wring as much as we can out of each season.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ethan Recovers from Walking Pneumonia & We Go to Mountian Bike Camp

On Friday, Aug. 8th Ethan was fine in the morning. By 2:00 he was running a temperature of 103+ degrees. He rarely gets sick, but when he does he gets REALLY sick, so I thought it would pass quickly. He stated at 103+ degrees until Sunday. I made sure he got plenty of rest, liquids, whole fruit, etc. By Monday it was down to 102 degrees. Tuesday bought it down to 100 degrees. At this point I became a bit worried. Partly because the fever was still so bad and partly because I was worried that he would miss camp. Wednesday afternoon his fever was still going down a tiny bit, but I decided he should see the doctor. She had seen two other boys with the same condition. She put them in the hospital. I thought he might have strep throat. It turns out that he had Walking Pneumonia. We told her about camp. Ethan was so excited to go and did not want to miss it! She gave him extra strong meds and that did the trick. The next day the fever was nearly gone. When Ethan was not sleeping he was eating. It seemed that he made up for all of those feverish, yucky days all in one day. By Friday he was even better and we all got to go to camp.

Mountain Bike Camp took place at Snow Mountain Ranch. It was even more beautiful than ever since it was green and relatively lush. The green mountains, the snow cover peaks, the fluffy clouds, the blue sky - it was all like something from a movie. Then came the rain. It rained all night on Friday. It was pouring in the morning. Saturday Colorado seemed determined to have all four seasons in one day. We had beautiful blue skies, we had monsoonal rains, we had hail, snow and ice (yes, ice - I had to scrap off my windshield - can you believe it?)Some of the activities were help inside others were morphed into something that worked well enough. Part of the time the kids learned strength exercises and stretches. The brave souls went for a bike ride. The younger brave souls went for a jog on a trail that became marshy from so much sudden rain. After lunch the cloud made way from blue sky and the kids got to ride and race for a while. The kids LOVED the race because they got SOOOOOO muddy. Dinner was greeted by more rain, thunder and lightening. Luckily we had already planned to do "Bump & Thump" inside. I imagine that we must have gotten 2" of moisture in a single day - I kid you not!

The head coaches were great people. Allison Dunlap was the Woman's Mountain Bike champion for three years. She also rode in the Olympics when it took place in Athens. She was so real and good with the kids. They loved her. During the races she acted as the lead car, keeping just ahead of the lead kid. Jason, a wild and wonderful 7 year old declared that he was going to beat Allison.He gave it a good try on his tiny legs, 14" wheels and determination. Rus Kappius was the other head coach. He is a sort of local celebrity in the Senior Men's CX racing as he has real talent. The kids loved him, too. I think you can see it in the photo above.

Sunday was a bit nicer. We got to wear lots of warm clothes and the kids raced. We had the final race and then awards. Both of them came 3 third in their respective categories. I was proud of them. They are good kids. I was also happy to find that Ethan was not piking a fever again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Maxwell Falls Trail in Evergreen

This past Sunday Ellie and I went with Larr and the Suters to climb. Or rather, Larr, Ellie and Andreas were going to climb. Laura, Davis and I went to watch as well as picnic. It was a new route to get to a climbing spot the guys had been to, or so they thought. It turned out that it was a new set of rocks and climbs. The trail was beautiful. I am sure it could turn a grumpy day into a good one - how could it not - it was that amazing. For the first part of the way we followed a babbling, skipping brook as it meandered its way through a wooded part of the park. You could easily imagine running into a fairy, sprite or unicorn there. I always appreciate it when Larr finds a hiking spot for us that includes water. The photo I have included today shows my favorite part of the walk. The rocks and their placement almost look man made. I would have loved to sit by the waterfall to paint, knit, read, eat, or some other leisurely activity. A bit farther down the trail we headed up to a rock out cropping. The forecast for the day was not a promising one and I think we all felt a little like we were taking part in a secret race against the weather. What we thought would be a five minute walk really became a 30 minute walk. We got all set up. The ropes were put out, the gear was put on and the picnic laid out. Ellie decided to not top rope (Going from the top down, over the edge) so she came down to sit with us. Larr gave it a good tried, but did not get too far. Just as Andreas mounted the rock there was a soft muffling sound of rain. By the time he was a few feet up on the rock the droplets turned into sassy, fat plops of rain. Andreas kept going as far as he could, slippery rock and all. Davis gallantly stood over Laura and the dog to shield them while they enjoyed watching Andreas climb. Ellie and I search for spots next to the rock where we could stay dry. It all reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Ellie and Larr are reading it together. I nearly expected to see a few of the creatures from the story hurry by. Once it was clear that the rain was not going to stop any time soon we packed up and headed back. Ellie and I were soaked to the skin. The rain was so heavy that I had to take off my glasses to see. I have not needed to do that in many years. It is a wild experience. I would have liked to have better weather, but I am also thankful for the moisture it brought to the mountains. Perhaps it will stave off a forest fire and help the plants thrive.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Word Clouds - A Really Fun Link

My good friend, Jani, who is a computer teacher at my school introduced me to a very cool website where you can create really neat word clouds. You can access it at I like it so much that I have incorporated it into an introductory assignment I have my students do so that I can get to know them as a person, instead of just as a student.

Here are the tips I have figured out:

Wordle Tips:
If you want a word to be larger than the rest type it several times. For example, if you type your name four times it will be much larger than the other words. The words that are kind of important could be typed out two or three times to make them slightly bigger.

If you want to keep a set of words/phrases together be sure to place a ~ between the words. The program will read this as a linking space. The ~ will not show up on your word cloud.

You can change up the colors by selecting Color>Edit Color Paletter> Click on the squares to pull up a color palette. Pick four colors and they will be inserted.

You can have a fun time by selecting Randomize from the bottom of the screen. The program will select new fonts and positions. Be aware that by doing this you cannot go back to a previous version of the word cloud.

If you decide to save something in the gallery be sure that you do not use your full name or publish anything that should not be available to anyone who accesses the internet!

Have fun! Check Out the Gallery for interesting ideas!

Go, visit, give it a spin and have fun!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Back to School & Lucci the Baby Squirrel

I had to go back to school (work) on Thursday. Ethan and Ellie were sad for me. Ethan kept telling me how sorry he was that I had to go to work. I told him it is okay. At least I have a job I like and find interesting. The year is a bit scary as the curriculum that I teach has changed. Nothing like teaching all new courses!

On another, sweeter note, I wanted to share photos of Lucci. Last Saturday our neighbors were working in their yard when they heard a thump. When they investigated they found a four day old squirrel kit. It seems that she either squirmed out or was pushed. It seems that other squirrels will push the litter mates out so that they can have more food and space. Other times the father kicks them out so that he can mate with the mother squirrel some more. Either way, there she was. She had no fur on her hips, her eyes were closed and she was very weak. James knew just what to do since he has rescued three others. He and Midge are nursing the cute little thing to health. I love to hold her. She wraps her little paws around my finger and makes sweet noises. I happen to be a very hot person and she seems to enjoy the warm that my hand exudes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Hot & Wild Weekend - Racing, Resturants, Fish & Photoshop Links

This past weekend we had the last two road races that are part of the two race series that the kids compete in. For Ethan things went pretty well. For Ellie it was another story.

Saturday they completed the Federal Center Crit. It is a closed (no traffic)technical course with 12 corners. Ethan just did two short laps and managed to get his place (I think it was 7th or 8th place) by just about 2" as his friend, Tom, was right next to him. He enjoyed the race. Sunday was the criterium championship and a very hot day. He got a slow start and just never caught up. He came in 14th out of 20 riders. However, he still had fun. And why ride if you are not having fun? That is the most important part.

Ellie had fun at both races, but it was not her weekend. Her group did one lap at the Federal Center. She was speeding around the second to last corner and ready to come in first place when she was pushed off by a rider with less control. This caused her to flip on her bike and crash. She recovered quickly but her waterbottle had rolled onto the middle of the road so she had to get it before it caused another crash. I was worried when slower riders came in and she was no where in sight. Eventually she rounded the corner and finished the race. Her gear shifter was wonky and nearly parallel with the handlebars, her brakes were held open because there were chunks of grass and dirt stuck in them from when she crashed. Her ankle, hip, ribs and shoulder were hurt a bit, but none so much as her pride. She had victory in her grasp and lost it. It made her MAD! The next day, the championship, came and she was still sore. She enjoyed the race a little bit, but was disappointed with her performance as she came in 5th place.

After the races on Sunday we met the grandparents

at the Downtown Aquarium for lunch and to take in the sights. The food at the Laundry's was okay. Larr's fish taco's and Eleanor's Crab Dip were the best things served. The big thing was how fun the restaurant itself was!

The aquarium was a lot of fun. It was taken over by Laundry's a few years ago and boy did they change things. It was much more colorful and touristy than before. It was interesting to see people feeding the rays, the tube where you can see a turtle swim above you and all of the different displays. We had a lot of fun that day, feeling like we were on vacation right in our own home town. I think they call that a Staycation these days.

I have been researching my options for doing digital scrapbooking now that I can use Photoshop. I have found great sites to download free brushes and a few reasonably priced places for large size prints ( such as 12" x 12") and photobooks. seems to be the place with the larges (500+) number of brush sets that you can download for free. If you feel like making ultra fancy fonts or headings you can go to this site (photoshoproadmap) for tutorials.

If you want to print up individual pages the best price seems to be found at scrapbooks to share where a 12" x 12" print is just $1.50. They even have a special deal you can try so that you can see the quality of their product. If you want to have your scrapbook printed with a full color hardcover book you can go to Shutterfly. They seem to have the best and most clear options. They even have a specs download so that you can plan your pages to fit the book perfectly.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Honey Greek Yogurt with Crean & Sweetened Fruit Parfait Recipe Cards

I've been reading Tessa Kiro's cookbook, Apples for Jam. I heard about it on several other blogs. It is much larger than I had expected and we love all of the recipes that I have made from it. I have adapted many of them to suit my own needs and my family's taste. Here is the latest of these. On Thursday I had lunch with my girlfriends, on of whom is trying to eat as if she had diabetes. I wanted to try and honor that so I looked for a fun dessert that was sans wheat and refined sugar. Here's what I came up with - Honey Greek Yogurt with Cream and Sweetened Fruit topped with Pistachios Parfaits. It was really quite a hit! If you don't like yogurt or have not tried Greek yogurt it is worth you time to give it a go. This dessert is creamy and satisfying. Best of all I don't think you could tell that I was trying to work with specific guidelines. I used Agave Nectar because it is not a processed sugar. You could use regular sugar and have fine results, too.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer Drink & Dessert Recipes - Lunch with Girlfriends

I was recently lamenting that I had to go back to work soon and I had not lunch with any of my girl friends. I love to have friends over, but just can't put that together right now. My dear friend Laura stepped in and offered to have a luncheon for a few of us up at her house in the mountains. We got together on Thursday and had such fun. I brought drinks and a dessert. My idea had been to do an ice tea tasting but it morphed into a bit more. I had fun reading about different tea recipes on Posie Gets Cozy, a blog I really enjoy. In the end I made regular ice tea with Constant Common with lemon, blueberry ice tea made with True Blueberry tea from Celestial Seasonings, Mint Juleps and Basil Lemonade. The blueberry ice tea is a favorite of my family. I nearly had to guard it so that it would not disappear before the party. The Mint Julep recipe is reminiscent of the drinks we had when we had lunch at the Blue Bayou/ Pirates of The Caribbean restaurant last summer during our Disney vacation. The Basil Lemonade was a big, unusual risk that paid off well. It was the favorite of many of us. (I hope to make a recipe card for it this weekend.) I got the recipe from the comments section from Posie's blog. I also made a wonderful dessert that I will post about some time soon. If you would like to see and/or download the recipe card just click on the image to bring up a larger version.

Enjoy and Stay hydrated!