Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Power of a Good Friend Makes You Faster

This weekend these lovely girls did a lot of racing, over 50 miles worth when you combine them. And am I ever proud of them.

They both did so well. Now, I am proud of them because they both made it to the podium this weekend. However, I am more proud of how they dealt with the events. They are at that age where they grow by leaps and bounds both physically and emotionally. This weekend they were troopers who raced through the lovely country side of Deer Trail with its highways that remind you of a roller coaster ride. They never complained about the wind or the rapidly changing weather. They persisted.

On Sunday they race just north of Boulder where they speed around Haystack Mountain on beucolic country roads.They each competed as individuals in the morning, took a rest for a while and then raced as a two girl team. They were the only girls to take up the charge. They said they were going to just go for a spin since they had the first place buttoned up, but instead they kicked it into high gear, going faster together at the end of a lot of racing, than they had each done alone.

Laura, Ari and I leap frogged them in the van. We would drive ahead of them, jump out to cheer and speed forward again. We could see the efforts wearing on their faces, but they also smiled and laughed when we made fun, silly fools of us as we cheered, clanged cow bells and jumped up and down. It was a reminder for me how a good friend can really help you get through stuff faster and with more style.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's Going on Here?

I am taking the "Bling Out Your Blog" online class. (You can see the button for it on my sidebar.) I love the way some of my favorite blogs look and wanted to create a more personalized one myself. This look is temporary. I just really wanted to see if I could do it. I love the funky polka dot paper here. It is from Tracy Ann Digital Arts, I think. Each day I will be adding more things to "bling out" my blog. Stay tuned - I can hardly wait to see what will come next!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Goin' to Prom

I my career I have only missed one prom. I love to go and see how the kids look when they are all spiffy. Prom is a bit different from when I was in high school.

They always do it at some fancy venue, have free finger food that comes from someplace wonderful and they go to afterprom from Midnight to 3 a.m. I whimp out and skip that part most years.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jamaican Joy - Images from a Recent Trip My Son Took #1

One way to see the sea.

A different way to "catch" a wave.
A star of the sea, humble yet blazing bright.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tang Concubine

Friday was a cold and blustery day. The weather vasilated between sloppy. ploppy rain and thick snow that looked more like bits of stuffing than the real deal. Ethan was in Jamaica and Ellie was staying the night at Arianna's house, so we were home alone - an unusual event for us. I called Larr to tell him that I was leaving. He says, "Say, what are you doing this evening." "Oh, I don't know. That is why I am calling you," I replied. "I was thinking we'd have dinner at Arby's and go to the two dollar theater." "Is it a Kelsey fundraider?" I inquired. (Kelsey is trying to earn money to go on an "Up with People" trip. We've eaten a few crazy dinners in an attempt to support her.) "OR... what about McDonald's and Redbox?" (an even cheaper option)"Huh, I see you're in a silly mood." "No, well, yes. I have a surprise - do you wanna know what it is, or should I make you wait?" "It is already a surprise. Tell me." I was intrequied at that point. " Tang Concubine! We're going to see Tang Concubine at the Buell." "What?" I inquired. I thought I had not heard him correctly. I thought it looked like a fun show, but very pricey. He decided to buy tickets for us to go since I love almost anything Chinese. Later that evening I happily put on my Chinese-ish jacket and headed to the theater. A rare treat for us.

It is the story of two women of importance in China during the Tang Dynasty. The show was billed as an action-theater presentation. It was wonderful, beautiful, modern and way more sexy than I expected it to be. The costumes were amazing. The dancers were talented and superb. The two drummer in the orestra pit were as much fun to watch as the dancers. The show was like a musical mixed with a martial arts show and a circus act. If it comes your way, I would suggest you go. At the end a few of the dancers stood in the lobby where you could have your photo taken with them. I had not taken my camera, but we took two with Larr's camera. Now we simply need to figure out how to send them to me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Of Seven Tiered Falls, Run, Coconuts from the tree and Private Hammocks on the Beach

On Tuesday the crew in Jamaica headed for the Golden Sands beach to do a little body surfing and time of the beach. Ethan marveled at how clear the water is. He says that it is like looking into glass. The bottom that is 100 feet away looks only five feet deep. I was lovely to have a relaxing day.

Next up was a visit to YS Falls where they challenged each other swing out over the water and let go. Some were not very high, but others were up to 25 feet out. He loved diving off of the water cliff falls. When they tired of that they when out to do zip lines out through the jungle.

In the evening they rented a house on the beach and went out for a nice meal. Ethan was happy to finally meet a cat, the first one he had encountered on this trip. He tells me that the cat is really sticking and very lovey. He also remarked that there were still wild, sickly thin dogs everywhere. He shared what he could with them. On the beach there would be groups of up to ten dogs who forgot their worries and had some fun. Ethan said they rather looked like a group of kids playing and having a good time. In the evening he settled in to watch the sunset from a hammock on the beach. He relished a bit of alone time that afforded him.

On Wednesday they played on the beach more. Midday they visited the Appleton Estates Rum Distillery. They visited the plant and the factory where you get a glimpse of their famous process. Ethan was most impressed with the liquid sugar they use. At the end you get a disposable shot glass and samples of as many things as you like. He said, "Mom, it is quite a sales pitch. They put you in this dark, lush room with tons and tons of bottles of rum. You can taste and drink as much as you like. After you are done you have to go through their store to leave. I think everyone bought something."

One of the favorite activities has been going to Bamboo Avenue. It is lovely, lush and has lots of coconut tress. You tell the person there which coconut you want. It gets cut down. Then they open it with a knife. First you enjoy the coconut jelly. Then they cut it up more and you eat the meat. Ethan thinks he could do this every day. He found it funny when he saw a man ride an ancient donkey up the road to nearly where they were. He was thinking this guys was totally old school until the old man pulled out a cell phone and began making a call. Later they went out to eat, again. This time Ethan ordered Peppered Shrimp. Unfortunately it made his throat close up so he had to trade with someone else. He spent the evening walking back to the house and hanging out in the hammock.

We did not hear from him on Thursday. Once we get more news I will continue the recap. Until then I will simply have to image what he is doing in the 90+ weather with glowingly white sand beneath his toes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Snorkeling in Crystal Clear Blue Ocean Waters and Roasting Your Own Coffee

When you stand on the beach in Jamaica you will notice that the water takes on a shade of bright blue that is akin to a jewel. Ethan always assumed that the beautiful photos of the Jamaican beaches had been Photoshoped. Now that he has seen it with his own eyes his soul is in love. Easter found them taking a tiny boat out to a teeny, tiny beach island that must not be bigger than an acre of land, perhaps 100 feet wide by 400 feet long. From here you put on your snorkeling gear and glide noiselessly into the water. At first the fish and creatures hide in, below or behind the rocks. If you are patient and quiet they will soon reemerge and show their splendor ad mist the turquoise waters. Ethan saw a few puffer fish, a bunch of lovely blue fish and others that he did not have time to describe. Later they returned to the main island and the feast of many foods continued.

Today they had planned do a bike tour of a coffee plantation. They arrived to find that the owner was too sad to do the tour. Her husband died recently. She visited with them, showed them a few of the plants and taught them to roast their own coffee beans. Ethan said it was the best cup of coffee he has ever had. They also went on a hike in the jungle and did a little shopping. He did not like how prices changed based on who you are. For example, the driver was offered strawberries for $300 Jamaican dollars. The same fruit was offered to Ethan for $1,000 Jamaican. They decided to have the driver do the purchasing. Ethan loves it there, but says he is not sure I would be so happy. "Mom," he says in a maternal tone, "you would find it beautiful and the food is amazing, but I am not sure you would be happy here. There are dogs everywhere. Most of them look terrible. You can see their ribs poking out. Most of them are skiddish, but a few are too weak to move about. That would make you sad."

Tomorrow they are off to Paradise Beach for more snorkeling. I can't wait to see the photos.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jamaican Jerk, Sour Cream Lemon Rolls and Easter

Thanks to Natalie for my favorite Easter display of 2009. I find it inspirational!
Ethan called last night, all a buzz about his first day in Jamaica. They spent the day putzing around. They went to the barn where his cousin Anna practices. She is on the Jamaican Horse Riding team. She could not bring her own horse, but rides a lovely one that she is renting from a girl who is spending the year in China. It has been a great experience so far. Their family will move back to Colorado at the beginning of June so her time with them is limited. They also seemed to spend the day eating. On Friday Ethan had a great dinner from a stand where they sell Jerk Chicken. Ethan ate lots of different things and took lots of photos. When he went back on Saturday the man teased him saying, "Ah maaaaan, aren' yah' gonna take no more photos of me, maaaaaan?" Ethan just smiled in response. He is really taken with the beauty of the land and the freshness of the food. He tried many new things yesterday. He says the juice, made as you wait, is amazing. What he finds very interesting is the driving. He had never been in a country where there is the European style where the car is on the left and the driver sits on the right side. He is also amazed that there seems to be no seatbelts or speed limits. Every time you drive you take your life in your hands. Uncle Rex estimates that the average speed of travel regardless of where you are is 80 mph. Bridges are especially intense since it becomes a game of chicken since they are only one lane wide. The police are in full force wearing tactical gear and carrying serious weapons. Anna and Calvin are done with school until next fall so they were going to burn Calvin's school uniform. Today they head for the beach.

On the Colorado front, we cleaned hour, I went to a baby shower and Ellie went to a babysitting job. It feels odd to have each of us farmed out in different directions. It is alright, too. This morning is quiet. I am getting ready for our family Easter party this afternoon. I am making my ever popular Sour Cream Lemon Rolls. They are always a hit. Here's the recipe. I make it in the bread machine but I am certain it could be done by hand:

Sour Cream Lemon Rolls

9 rolls (18 rolls)
2/3 (1 1/3) cup Sour Cream
2 (2) Eggs
1/4 (1/2) cup Sugar
1/2 (1) tea. Salt
2 (4) cup Bread Flour
1 1/2 (3) tea. Lemon Peel, grated
1 1/2 (2 1/2) tea. Yeast

Place the ingredients in the bread pan, select Dough setting and press start.

Once the dough has risen once remove it from the pan. Turn it out on a floured cutting board and knead for 5 minutes. Roll into a long rope shape. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper cut the dough into 9(18) pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place it in a pan. I muffin tins.

Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place (I turn my oven on to 350 degrees and let my bread rise on the cooktop, being warmed from the heat from the oven below.)until double in size, usually 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees for 20 minutes before you bake your rolls. They should take about 20 minutes to become nicely browned and done. I like to rub a stick of butter on the hot buns right after I remove them from the oven. These are best served warm. The leftovers make really wonderful bread pudding, especially if you add a light lemon sugar glaze to it.

Another fun Easter treat Ethan, Natalie, Ben, Camille and I made were some cake pops. We had fun, but found them to be much more challenging than we had expected. You can learn more on how to make them from Bakerella and The Pioneer Woman. And finally, thanks to Natalie for the inspirational Easter display. I hope you all had a wonderful day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Leavin' on a Jet Plane...

We've been superbusy again (okay, like normal) getting Ethan ready for his trip to Jamaica. There were new shoes, swimming trunks (he needed 3 pair), a money belt, snorkeling gear, etc. to buy and pack. He was really careful and was able to make it all fit into a carry on bag. I was glad. It will make his travelling life easier. He flew out on American Airlines early this morning. We got ready last night and left at 5:00 this morning so that we could get him on his way and get to work on time.

The people at the airport were great. It was a little easier sending Ethan off than sending off Ellie. Maybe because he is older, maybe because we had practice with Ellie and her trip to California. We went through the lines quickly. There was even are really kind woman (who I am sure is a mother) traveling through the security area who helped him. We could not go in so we stood outside of the ropes and watched him navigate through the security check. He had to take off his shoes, empty his bag, pull out his medications, toiletries, etc. He got through just find, but his chrome bag did not. He got the "special treatment". He must have forgotten the tiny pocket knife he had in one of the pockets. Thankfully a security officer was willing to bring it over to us instead of throwing it away. We watched him walk down the concourse and we headed out.

He flies to Miami and meets Uncle Doug there this afternoon. He has a few hours to hang out there and exchange US dollar for Jamaican money. (It turns out that nearly all of the bank-type businesses will be closed until Tuesday in observance of Easter.) He and Doug will arrive in Kingston in the early evening. It was exciting to make this possible for him. I wish we could have all gone with him. What a lucky boy he is.
Ellie did not seem to mind not going on the trip. She has had her fling already. Beside, tonight is the first ever lock-in sleep over at her school. She is totally excited. She has wanted one of these for years. She and her friends organized this one. I hope it goes well. I hope we all get some sleep.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter Lovelies from Martha Stewart

I love all of the lovely decorations, table linens and centerpieces that accompany Easter. I did not have time to decorate this year, but I appreciate and enjoy their beauty anyway. When I was visiting with Natalie I got to take in her lovely displays, which motivated me to want to go home and do the same at my house, but life got in the way. Ellie had just returned from her California Dreamin' trip, we had bike racing to do (and they were awesom - I tell you!) and we are at the tail end of getting Ethan ready to go to Jamaica tomorrow. His flight leaves at something like 6:30 a.m. (Yeah, a killer time, but he will get to Jamaica just in time for a sunset!

In my email I got links to the Martha Stewart website. I took a break from grading papers and keeping seniors sane (It is tough this time of year. I think they have something like 23 more days of school left - it is CRAZY!)to take in her suggestions for Easter centerpieces. You can gaze at all 24 ideas here. I just wanted to include my absolute favorites so that I won't forget about them next year.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Imix Creations for New Baby Gifts

Printed with iTunes
1. Stay Awake / Julie Andrews 1:45
2. Inchworm / Danny Kaye 3:14
3. Hushabye Mountain / Various Artists 1:55
4. La la Lu / Peggy Lee 1:37
5. Edelweiss / Various Artists 2:16
6. Lullaby / Trout Fishing In America 3:41
7. Baby Mine (From "Dumbo") / Betty Noyes 2:07
8. Feed the Birds - Tuppence a Bag (From "Mary Poppins" 3:49
9. When You Dream / Barenaked Ladies 5:19
10.(They Long to Be) Close to You / Carpenters 4:36
11.The Luckiest / Ben Folds 4:25
12.Waltzing With Bears / Mack Bailey 3:48
13.All the Pretty Little Ponies / Kenny Loggins 3:59
14.Leatherwinged Bat / Kevin Roth 2:14
15.You Are My Sunshine (Pt. 1) / Elizabeth Mitchell 2:49
16.Somewhere Over the Rainbow / Israel Kamakawiwo'ole 3:31
17.Lullaby / Jack Johnson & Matt Costa 2:47
18.Gotta Have You / The Weepies 3:20
19.All Through the Night / Kevin Roth 2:06
20.Blessed Be / Alison Krauss 3:26
21.Night Mantra / Renee & Jeremy 3:20
22.Takes My Breath Away / Tuck & Patti 4:57
23.Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) / John Lennon 4:04

I love reading blogs. I have several that I check every day. One that I love is by Ali Edwards. She is a designer for, the place that I get most of my digital scrapbooking items from. She recently had Baby Anna. It is touching to read their new experiences together. One of the inspiring things she has done was to create an IMix for the baby. She posted the song list, some links, instructions on how to make an IMix through ITunes. This got me thinking. First I started with just checking out the songs. Then I thought of the several friends who have had or are just about to have their first babies. I usually make a small photoalbum for them, one where you can put in one photo for each month of the first year, but right now I just don't have the time to create a few of those. They take me a long time. They are always a hit, so I wanted to come up with something equally personal. This struck me as the solution. I love to give very personal gifts that the baby will not outgrow so quickly. Some of my favorite gifts to us when Ellie and Ethan were born were the cassettes I received. I had an established set that I played for each of them. It quickly became part of our bedtime routine to turn on the music and I would sing along as I rocked them. This lovely routine lasted for a very long time. In fact, I still sing a few of the songs to them when they are feeling down or are ill. I began by listening to the songs on Ali's list. Then I read all of the comments that others left and listened to those, too. One at a time the kids would walk by, taking note of what I was working on. First Ellie suggested some that I had sung to her. The Ethan chimed in. What began as a small gift creation for someone else became a gift of a walk down memory lane. And my was it every sweet. I still have those songs in my head. At first I worried that I would not find enough music for my project. Very quickly it turned into a much larger list that became two playlists. One for bedtime and one for relaxing times. I love that you can create a playlist in Itunes then print out a CD cover that lists the songs, the artist(s) and many of the covers.

Printed with iTunes
1. Gotta Have You / The Weepies 3:20
2. Daughters / John Mayer 3:58
3. All My Days / Alexi Murdoch 4:57
4. Blackbird / The Beatles 2:19
5. Common Threads / Bobby McFerrin 4:17
6. Takes My Breath Away / Tuck & Patti 4:57
7. The Lovely Years / Fisher 3:00
8. Power of Two / Indigo Girls 5:22
9. In My Daughter's Eyes / Martina McBride 3:14
10.I Knew I Loved You / Savage Garden 4:10
11.I'm Yours / Jason Mraz 4:03
12.Little Bird / Jonatha Brooke 2:30
13.White Winter Hymnal / Fleet Foxes 2:27
14.Hands In Pockets (feat. Laura Gibson) / Portland Cello 3:26
15.First Day of My Life / Bright Eyes 3:09
16.Tiger Mountain Peasant Song / Fleet Foxes 3:29
17.Sunshine On My Shoulders / John Denver 5:14
18.Annie's Song / John Denver 3:02
19.Night Mantra / Renee & Jeremy 3:20

If you create an IMix, I'd love to hear about it. You can check out the instructions on how to create them either through Ali's Blog or through Itunes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dead Horse Point, More Wind and Hello Grand Junction

Monday dawned a bit more sunny. After taking in the hotel free continental breakfast we headed out to explore some more. This time we headed for the south end of Moab. We found the very old Highway 46 and went to explore. Ethan is like his father. They love to follow every road to see where it will lead them. This was a quaint road that meandered up the side of a mountain and down into a quite,lovely desert valley. On the side of the hill you could see some popular bike path that held no riders that day. Farther up we spied what looked to be a mine en trace. Ethan had been itching to go hiking since we arrived in Moab, but the weather would not cooperate. He decided that the spot needed to be investigated, so he put on his gear and headed out. He climbed down some rocks, across a dried river bed and up the side of the hill. He was extra cautious this time because he does not want to have any injuries when he goes to Jamaica in a few weeks. He had a peak in the cave and was off again in search of interesting rocks. He wanted me to follow him, but I did not want to climb down the rocks. I was feeling a bit wimpy that day. He decided to follow the riverbed north. He found great rocks and a creepy site. The site was littered with broken, bleached bones from what must have been at least two cows. Ethan says that it looks like coyotes must have gotten them since the bones were broken and scattered. The litter of those large bones made him feel uneasy. He decided it was time to rejoin me so he climbed back up to the road and off we went. We drove in a bit father, but I wanted to turn around once the road started to get rougher. We were disappointed to find eight lots for sale. Putting houses up this little valley would change its face completely. We continued south for a while and decided to go back north. We wanted to hike more, but the wind and cold were simply too much. Next up we drove out to Dead Horse Point. It is one of my favorite views in all of that part of Utah. It feels like you can see forever. We had taken the whole family there years ago but I don't think Ethan remembered it. Later we were going to have some coffee, tea and conversation,but we could not find a coffee house. In the end we settled for buying stuff for dinner and hot chocolate. Then we went back and set up camp in the wind. I decided to have corned beef hash for dinner so I set up the cooking table next to the van. I even opened two of the doors to act like shields. Ethan started up a fire and we tried to enjoy it. After a while we felt wind whipped so we retreated into the van where we set up the computer on a box, turned on the engine to run the heater and the power converter and enjoyed "Madagascar II." It was really pretty fun. We were warm when we went to bed. In the morning I awoke to find the windows caked with ice. I had to scrap off some ice with my finger nails to see how the weather was outside. It was still cold. I turned on the heater again so it would be nice for Ethan when he woke up. Once he did we packed things up, returned the movie and headed to Grand Junction to visit with Natalie and her family. It was fun to see how she has redecorated so many rooms in their house. It was great fun to visit and have dinner. The meal was lovely, so Natalie and I thought we'd share the recipes:

Greek Style Chicken

Feta Pesto Stuffing (recipe below)
4 Chicken quarters
1/4 tea. Salt
1/8 tea. Pepper
2 TBL Lemon Juice
1 TBL Olive Oil

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the Feta Pesto stuffing. Gently loosen the skind from the chicken using your finger, Then spread 1/4th of the stuffing between the meat and the skin of each chicken quarter.

Place the chicken, skin side up, in an ungreased rectangular pan, 13"x9"x2". Season wiht salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

Back uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the juice of the chicken is no longer pink.

Feta Pesto Stuffing

1/2 cup Water
4 Sun Dried Tomatoes
1/2 cup Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
1 TBL Pesto

Pour water over the dried tomatoes and let them sit for five minutes. Drain and thoroughly chop. Mix in the cheese, onion and pest with the tomatoes.


Autumn Apple Cake
1 1/2 sicks of unsalted Butter
3 large, tart Apples peeled, quartered and sliced to 1/2" thick
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 10" pie dish.

In a medium skillet, cook the butter over medium heat until golden (about 10 minutes). Pour this into a bowl. While the butter is cooking, toss the apple slices with lemon juice. The stir in 1 tsp. of the sugar and cinnamon. Spread the apples evenly in the pie dish.

Stir 3/4 sup of the sugar into the butter. Next, gently add the eggs and then the flour. Mix gently until just incorporated. Spread this batter over the apples. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp. of sugar over the top of the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the surface is golden and crusty.

This is great when served warm with ice cream.