Monday, November 30, 2009

A Little Photoshop Magic, A Gift from My Heart, in Part

I'm working hard on getting an important present done for Ethan. I am not sure that I will make the deadline. I'm having fun with it now that I have some sense of the artistic feel that I want for the book. Here are a few of the new pages.

Did you notice how some of them look like old photos? That is cool stuff I do to the photographs in Photoshop. The beach pictures have two textures applied with a hard light. I then erased some portions so that the pictures would still be clear. The textures I used on most of them are GrungeBox TOTD # 112 and Doctrine 9-24-09 TOTD # 75. These are both from the textures that SkeletalMess offers. He is the same guy who has the amazing blog, Shadowhouse Creations, that I featured yesterday. As I said, I applied a hard light burn to them. The fonts featured in most of the pages include "Bleeding Cowboy,"( Grungy, fancy font) "Michael" (typewriter font) and "Futura XBLK BT." I think you can find most or all of these on for free. The fun flourishes come from a round brush that I love from the girls over at House of Three. The papers are from Lynne Grieveson's Antiquities Paper. I also used some bits of Katie Pertiet's Made to Remember templates. I love the stuff they have at Designer Digitals and House of Three.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Starting to Feel a Little Like Christmas or Inspiration From Many Sources

This mosaic was a great find on Flickr. It is by "love stitchin red.

Today I am Thankful for a great family holiday. We had such fun and the food was great. It was our first major holiday with Eleanor. Don held up beautifully. Everyone else is off doing their own things. Larr is rock climbing, and what a fine day it is for that! Ethan is with Tom out skulking around and playing airsoft as well as trying out science experiment type stuff. Ellie could not wait to get into the Christmas shopping fray and see "Fantastic Mr. Fox." I waited for the dishwasher repair guy to show up. I had hoped to get a few scrapbook pages done, but was lacking creative vision. I spent time on Itunes instead. I had a lot of fun putting together a new holiday playlist. One fun new find was Straight No Chaser. Here they are singing "Christmas Can Can."

I followed this up by gathering stuff for the art class I am going to take tomorrow. I love spending time at the art store. I followed that with visits to a few hand-craft galleries here. I found these inspirational, too. Perhaps the links will help you get in the mood, too:

Twig and Thistle

Sarah Angst, artist

Some of Me Cards

Artists to Watch (Nick Wroblewski and Mary Azarian )

Nick Wroblewski

Skeletalmess - amazing photoshopped art
Here's his slideshow. I find his work so inspirational!

And finally,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pie Crusts and Brine - More Thanksgiving Recipes

One of the mainstays of Thanksgiving is the pie. I have a wonderful recipe for a tender, flaky crust that I found in Cookwise by Shirley Corriher.
It is one of my favorite books. It is sort of a cookbook, but the focus is on the science of cooking. This knowledge arms the reader with the power to understand the reactions that occur during cooking and how to fix what you don't like. I recommend that any serious cook read it. There are two main keys to a great crust namely, keeping everything as cold as possible and speed. The flakiness in a crust is due to the butter solids staying intact until cooking. When they melt they create the lovely layers. Speed is important because the more you work with the flour and any wettish ingredient the gluten in the flour begins to create strands that connect to each other. You want that in bread, but not in pie crust or cookies. A perfectly wonderful pie crust or cookie recipe can be completely different when worked by a quick cook and one who wants to over incorporate everything. Here's the one I used today:

Flaky Butter Crust

1/3 cup Water, very cold (I float ice in mine)
1/2 lb. of Butter (2 sticks, very cold, cut into 1/2 pieces)
2 cups All Purpose Flour
(I use salted butter so I leave salt out of the recipe. If you use unsalted butter be sure to add 1/2 tea. of salt to this recipe)

1. Chill the mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes).
2. Dissolve the salt, if using, in the water.
3. Place the butter and the flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it looks like chunks of oatmeal. Be very careful to not overwork it as it will warm up too much. Place this in the bowl of your mixer, cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.
4. Run the mixer and add in the water in little bits at a time. Start with 3 TBL. and add more as needed. Take it out when it looks cohesive. Form into two discs that are about 1" thick. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees or the temperature for the pie filling.
6. Roll out the dough (see my instructions below), being careful to be fast and not make it too thin.
7. Place in the pie pan. Trim the edges and prick the flour and side of the dough with a fork. This will prevent air bubbles from forming. If you are prebaking the pie shell place about 2 1/2 cups of uncooked rice or beans or pie weights on top of a piece of parchment paper in the pie pan. This helps it keep a nice shape and reduce the effects of shrinkage.
8. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove the rice, beans or weights and paper liner.
* If you are in a rush you could skip some of the chilling.

Here's what the flour butter mixture should look like.

Now, here's one of my tricks. I don't own a silicone mat. I am sure they are great. However, my way works nicely, too. I wipe down the countertop. The moisture causes a piece of waxed paper to stay in place. I top this will a little bit of flour that I spread around with the palm of my hand. This prevents the dough from sticking. I press the dough with my hand to begin the basic shape. Then I roll it out a bit and flip it over. Once it is the right thickness I pick up the wax paper and place it, dough side down, into the pie pan. It works like a charm!

Now the crust gets trimmed.

I've made a fluted edge with my fingers. It turned out that this one was too big. It fell during cooking.

Ready to go.

This year I also made frosted cranberries. I loved the ones at the bridal shower last week and was inspired to make some, too. That cook simply covered them with a small bit of light corn syrup and rolled them in sugar. They are sticky so I came up with another idea. Here's how to do it:

Frosted Cranberries

2 cups Cranberries (clean and ready to go)
1 Egg White
1 TBL Water
1 TBL Light Corn Syrup
1 cup Granulated Sugar

1. Whip the egg white with the water and corn syrup.
2. Place the cranberries in this mix, stirring to be sure that all cranberries get moistened.
3. Place the sugar on a plate. Use a fork to strain a few cranberries at a time, dropping them into the sugar. Use a spoon to roll them around so as to coat them with sugar. Place them on a piece of waxed paper to dry. It takes about 1.5 hours to dry. These can be stored for a few days. I will use them as garnish. My kids like to eat them,too.

I've been hearing buzz about brining the turkey for a few years now. I had always worried that it would make it too salty. However, when Laura and I were talking turkey and recipes she told me about the one she uses. I decided that I would give it a try. Here's recipe from
Citrus Turkey Brine
1 cup salt
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3TBL Baking Soda
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 gallons cold water


1. Rub salt onto your turkey, and place remaining sugar, baking soda, salt, lemons, oranges, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper into a large pot. Place the turkey in the pot, and fill with water. Refrigerate overnight. Discard brine after removing turkey.

Here's to a lovely Thanksgiving for you and your family!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Thankful for a Friend and Some Great Recipes

I am blessed in my life to have a few really good friends. As an adult I find that I have to be intentional about making time to support and maintain the relationships in my life. One such friend is Laura. I am so thankful for her. We have a great time together and support each other. She doesn't blink an eye if my house looks lived in when she visits. I can stop by her house and if I am hungry I can be sure to find nourishment. Most importantly, she nourishes my soul. She helps me recenter myself when, in stress, I have pushed myself to the edge. She helps me talk through the things that make me upset and helps me find sense and order. She indulges me when I am silly or overly enthusiastic. She helps me stay real. Besides, we just have a darn good time together.

I had today off so we spent the morning together. We had a light breakfast and went thrifting. We were on a quest to find wind/track pants for the girls to take to Nationals. We found much more, of course. I found someone's much loved fancy dishes. The colors are close enough to my fancy dishes that they will work nicely together. I also got two creamers that I will actually use for gravy. I also found a really fun blue canning jar, old style. She found great stuff, too.

We also discussed our Thanksgiving plans. Here's what we are having:

* Baked Brie Cheese wrapped in phyllo dough topped with spiced cherry chutney served with crackers
* Pistachios
* Chocolates - Sea foam and Caramels
* Spiced Nuts
* Bacon and Cheese Empanadas (in puff pastry cups instead of a folded pastry)

* Maple Glazed Turkey with Bacon and Sage
* Turkey Gravy
* Sage and Fennel Stuffing made with Buttermilk Cornbread
* Green Salad
* Green Bean and Onion casserole
* Sweet Potatoes with Citrus
* Mashed Potatoes
* Sour Cream Lemon Rolls

* Maple Glazed Pecan Pie
* Spiced Pumpkin Pie
* Whipped Cream

Here are the recipes for most of the offerings:

Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream 3 cups chicken stock 1
(12 to 14 pound) fresh turkey
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup hot water
8 strips smoked bacon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 lemon, juiced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.
Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it; season with salt and pepper.
In a saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sauteed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream, and just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about 1/2 cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.

Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it in as you go. Fill the bird with the cornbread stuffing without packing too tightly; cook the remaining stuffing separately in a buttered baking dish. Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, and put into the oven.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil.

About 2 hours into cooking, shingle the strips of bacon oven the turkey breast to cover; continue to roast and baste for another hour or so. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.
Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain to remove any particles. Serve the gravy with the maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.

Maple Orange Sweet Potatoes


* 2 1/2 pounds peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter, melted
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Traditional Method:

1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1" cubes. Boil these until they are fork tender.
2. Mash them with the butter (I added more than was called for). Add in the OJ, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt and ground cloves.
3. Place in a buttered baking dish. The dish can be covered and refrigerated for up to a few days, if needed.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. You can top with marshmallows, if wanted. You would add them in for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Microwave Method:
Place the sweet potato slices in a 2-quart casserole.

Combine juice and next 5 ingredients (juice through cloves) in a small bowl. Pour juice mixture over potatoes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 10 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes. Uncover, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes or until potato is tender. Sprinkle with pecans.

Sausage Fennel Stuffing

7 cups coarsely crumbled buttermilk corn bread
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings discarded
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 lb fennel (sometimes called anise; 2 medium), stalks cut off and discarded and bulbs coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crumbled
1 - 1 1/2 cup Craisins.
1 cup turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth or 1/2 milk and 1/2 broth

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spread bread crumbs in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven until golden and dry, about 15 minutes. Cool crumbs in pans on racks, then transfer to a large bowl.

Cook sausage in a dry 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up pieces with a fork, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread crumbs with a slotted spoon.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in skillet over moderate heat, then add onions, fennel bulb, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Finely grind fennel seeds in coffee/spice grinder, then add to vegetables in skillet along with thyme and tarragon and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Transfer vegetables to bowl with bread crumbs and sausage and toss gently but thoroughly. Spoon stuffing into a buttered 3- to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Drizzle with stock and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.

Cooks' note: • Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Buttermilk Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 TBS Sugar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, butter, and sage (if using) in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in a buttered 8-inch square baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack, then coarsely crumble.

Maple Pecan Pie

3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Roll out crust dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Fold edge under, forming high-standing rim; crimp decoratively. Freeze crust until firm, about 20 minutes.

Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in pecan halves.

Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Molasses-and-Spice Pumpkin Pie

Bon Appétit | November 2004

1 cup sugar (consider ¾ cup instead)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (fresh ginger can be used)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 9-inch unbaked homemade or purchased pie crust

Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add pumpkin, eggs, cream, milk, and molasses; whisk filling to blend.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until set in center and slightly puffed around edges, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool pie on rack.

Bacon and Egg Empañadas
Gourmet | November 1998

2 frozen turnover dough (empanada) wrappers*, thawed (I used puff pastry shells instead)
2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
3 scallions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 slices Canadian bacon

Preheat oven to 425°F. and butter a baking pan.

On a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin roll out each empanada wrapper into a 7-inch round. Finely grate Cheddar and in a bowl whisk together with eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Chop scallions. In a nonstick skillet heat 1 teaspoon butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté bacon until golden, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer bacon to a plate and add remaining 2 teaspoons butter to skillet. Heat butter until foam subsides and sauté scallions 15 seconds. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs just begin to set but are still very loose, about 30 seconds. Arrange 1 piece bacon 1/4 inch from edge of 1 empanada wrapper and spoon half of egg mixture on top of bacon. Fold empanada wrapper over filling to create a half-moon shape and seal by pressing edges together firmly with a fork. Make another empanada in same manner.

Transfer empanadas to baking pan and cut a few small slits in top of each empanada to create steam vents. Bake empanadas in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes.

Pete's Amazing Meatball Recipe

Our friend, Pete M. makes amazing meatballs. As a boy he had them for breakfast every Sunday. I have fun picturing that in my head when I make a batch of these. They are fun to make and freeze well. They are good enough alone that you don't need any sauce.

Pete's Amazing Meatballs

3-4 TBL Parsley, fresh & chopped
3-4 TBL Basil, fresh and chopped
3-4 Garlic SHoots or 1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1# Hamburger (80%)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese or Romano Cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs (plain or seasoned)
3 Eggs
Salt & Pepper, if desired

Mix the herbs, garlic and hamburger in the food processor or by hand. Add in the grated cheese and process again. Add in the bread crumb with the eggs. Form into Meatballs.

Bake the meatballs in a 350 degree oven. You can also fry them in a skillet.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A little racing, some Rock and Roll and a Lot of Girl Time

Friday afternoon, after school got out, Ellie and I headed south to meet our friends Mike and Laurel at the Castle Rock Outlet mall. We had a nice time looking for great deals. I didn't really find the things I was looking for, but we had luck with Mike's quest. She had drawn the name of a young man in foster card who would love a copy of one of the "Transformers" movies or a hoodie. Aeropostale, a very cool store, was having an amazing sale where nearly everything was 70% off. Mike was able to afford both and stay within budget. After shopping we spent the night at their house. They live in Monument on a nice chunk of land. Without the light pollution of Denver and the clear skies, we were able to admire the stars,including the big dipper.

On Saturday the girls raced. Ellie had another bad race. At one point she took so long to come around that I asked another one of the kids if he had seen her and if she was still on her bike. It turns out that she crashed and landed on her face. She was okay, but very upset once the race was over. It was hard to see how she felt. I hate when I am powerless to make her feel better. I've taken care of the stuff I can control, like her bike, better racing shoes, making sure she does not have asthma, etc. It seems like she has to reconcile whatever is going on in herself. It is one of the most difficult parts of parenting. After she recovered we all went to lunch at a pit of a Mexican food restaurant, but the food was wonderful. I had a party to go to so I kissed my girl goodbye and told her I would see her on Sunday. She and Laurel had plans.

I made my way to Golden to attend Michelle's bridal shower at The French Press. It was a great party. I am so pleased for Michelle and Nils. They deserve only the best. They are so in love. It is inspiring to see, and fun to experience. The coffee house closed at 1:00 so we had the place to ourselves. They served wonderful food, we had a nice time visiting and it was fun to see her gifts.

We had nice roll-ups with roast beef or turkey as well as veggies.

My favorite item was the savory pastry. It was puff pastry that enclosed a bacon and cheddar cheese filling. I could have had just these and would been perfectly satisfied. curiosity got the better of me, so I tried a little of most of the items.

It was hard to pick a dessert. In the end I elected to have the chocolate filled pillow, a lovely choice.

I zipped home to see the boys. We wanted to relax together so Larr, Ethan and I went to see the new the "Pirate Radio" movie. It was refreshing to see such a fun movie. It made me want to create a new playlist on my IPod.

Times like these make me thankful for my friends and my family. I had such fun with all of them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Inspiration - Candied Nuts & Many Ways to Decorate

Lots of stuff happened this past weekend, of course. But today I am finding a small snatch of time to enjoy the quiet and be inspired by other blogger's postings. Here are some of my favorites:

Red and White by Joanna Henderson

Inspiration via Molly Irwin.

I'm so impressed and inspired by the work of Helen Musselwhite.

This lovely image and the ones below are from Living ETC. magazine. You can see them and many other by visiting their gallery section and selecting Christmas.

I am also starting the free holiday class over at I love her wonderful classes. In the letter from her today she mentioned a fun website for those who love to be totally organized. Organized Christmas has tons of printable items for creating notebooks with checklists, to do lists, section dividers, etc. You might like it, too.

I love candied or glazed nuts. I find that I have to buy them every time I go to the Renaissance Festival. My friend, Mike, shared her recipe with me recently. We loved the results. I think Ethan would simply stand at the stove and eat all 48 oz. (nearly 9 cups) of them if I would let him. I think it is a recipe worth sharing and I think Mike would be glad for it, too.

Mike's Candied Nuts

8 cups mixed pecan halves, walnuts, and almonds [use raw not pre-salted nuts]
4 egg whites beaten to soft peaks
1 cup sugar [I've used both brown and white, but cut it down to 3/4 cup packed brown]
4 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom ( I didn't have this, but they were still great!)
Pam for baking sheet

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with heavy duty foil; spray lightly with Pam.

Bring egg whites to soft peak. In a separate bowl combine the sugar and spices. Gently fold the mixed nuts to the egg white peaks. Add the sugar and spice mixture. Spread out in a single layer over baking sheets. Cook 15 minutes. Stir. cook an additional 15 minutes. Stir. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes. stir and cool.

Ellie would like to come up with a caramel glazed nut recipe. I'll let you know if we are successful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ethan's New Team Kit Design Concept

Our team is having a contest to design a new team kit. Here's Ethan's submition:

I was surprised when Ethan showed interest in designing a kit. It was cool to see him come up with a design. He did a mock up in Paint and then we created a cleaner copy in Adobe together last night. Here's wishing my boy luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Little Q, A Little Shoe, a Little Hat and a Big Ball of Stress

We took last Saturday off from the races. We all slept in a bit and enjoyed a more relaxing start than we usually experience. I had visions of staying home, getting the cleaning and laundry done quickly and then having the day to mostly relax. But that is not how it really played out. We had errands to run and kids to shuttle to places. Ethan went with the Boy Scouts to sell beef jerky. Ellie just HAD to go shopping with Christy. She's been on a quest for shoes to go with her special dress for the Masquerade Ball in January and she had great luck. She came home, pleased as can be, with these lovely, high heeled, very grown up shoes. She is smitten. She gets her love of shoes from Grandma Gay.

I raised my eyebrow and before a word even slipped from my lips, Ellie rattled on how they are so comfortable and that she'll be just fine. I think the shoes are cute, but you couldn't pay me to wear such things. However, I'm glad she found what she was looking for.

Larr and I did some of our shopping and come home with a few goodies including a new Star Trek Fan Collective - Q. I had hoped to find the Borg collective but it was not to be found.

We spent much of the evening last many of the past, enjoying Star Trek.

Sunday found us off to the races again. This time we were at a new location in Brighton. Ethan had a great race, placing first in his category and third overall in the juniors.

Ellie had a miserable race. Her shoe came off during one of the run ups, she fell over at one point and she had the speed of little more than a slug, sort of. It was hard to watch. It was like her legs were in slow motion. The race winner passed (lapped) her about five feet from the finish line. She pulled out thinking she was done. Coach Bill and I made her do one more lap since she was racing against the girls and had not been lapped. She felt defeated, but we had a good talk. She has been feeling a lot of stress of late. Not just about biking, but about life in general. We had hoped that once she got her room cleaned that she would feel better. She says she has been stressed for weeks and felt like she could not breathe during the race. She felt like her lips were turning blue or purple. I am taking this to heart and am seeking to help her remedy the situation. Her dad suffers from stress induced asthma some times and she thinks she does, too. It is hard to know what to worry about and what is simply part of growing up.

On a brighter note, I was happy to finish the hat that I am making for sweet baby William. I hope that it will get some use.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Trying to Get a Calm Center or Knitting and Movie Watching as a way to relax

[Photos are coming soon - just as soon as I can get that boy to model the hat for me.]
The last two weeks were crazy busy. Although they were fun, they were also stressful. The two races last weekend were national level races which meant that they were a big deal. The kids raced both of them, but they really did seem to want to. I think they were simply tired, which translated into big fights over stupid stuff. I'm trying to pull back a bit and relax more this week. I went to see The Pioneer Woman on Monday and we have a party tonight, but on Tuesday and Wednesday we mostly relaxed and watched movies. We viewed "GI Joe" which was predictable, but fun to watch, and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" which was a real chick flick. I've also worked on my knitting. I am trying to make my self feel more centered or grounded. I am seeking out a sense of calmness. All of this relaxing will catch up to me, but for now it is my best choice.

There is another mother on the bike team, Vicki, who knits. I always love to check out what she is making. Most recently she made a thin wool hat that her son Sam wears under his helmet on cold days. I loved the feel and simple look of it. She used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for the hat. It is a DK weight so the needles were only size three. I was inspired so I asked for the pattern. She had it memorized and told it to me. I usually use much thicker yarn, but decided to give it a go. I made Ethan's hat very quickly and it has already served him well. Now I am onto another hat that I am making for a new little soul who has joined this world.

Here's Vicki's Hat Pattern (slightly modified)

You'll Need:
#2 16" Circular Needles
#3 16" Circular Needles
1 set #3 Double Pointed Needles
Stitch Markers
2 balls DK weight Yarn

Cast on 108 st.
onto the #3 circular needles (I think Vicki does her ribbed rows on #2 circular needles for a tighter band. I could not get any so I went with the #3 and it worked just fine.) Knit one row, being sure that it does not twist. Begin the ribbing in the second row by:
K3 P3 - continue until the ribbing is 1.5" wide.
(Switch to the #3 needles and a new color)
K 52, add 1 stitch, K 52 add 1 more stitch to have 110 stitches per row. Knit as many rows of the new color as pleases you. Switch back to the main color when you want to.
Continue knitting in the round and making color stripes until the hat measures 6.5" total, including the ribbing.
Now to begin the decrease (Switch over to the DPN when the circular needles become too long to manage):
K8 KT2, K8 KT2 > to the end of the row. Consider putting on a stitch marker after each KT2.
Knit a row.
K7 KT2, K7 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K6 KT2, K6 KT2 > to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K5 KT2, K5 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K4 KT2, K4 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K3 KT2, K3 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K2 KT2, K2 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.
K1 KT2, K1 KT2> to the end of the row.
Knit a row.

Continue this until you have about 6 stitches left on your needles.
Use a crochet hook to thread the fiber through the remaining stitches and pull tight. Knit in the ends.

The hat will look pretty thin and small, but it stretches nicely.

Enjoy! I know I did!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pioneer Woman Comes to Denver

I have an entire list of blogs that I love to read each day. The funny thing is that I have very little in common with most of the bloggers that I read on a regular basis. One of my favorites is I first learned about her from my friend, Natalie. I began reading it for the recipes that Natalie loved and then I became hooked. This past year we watched her work on writing a cookbook. Last night I got to meet her and get my copy of the book signed. The folks at the Tattered Cover expected about 40-50 people to show up. They sold all 350 copies of the book they had on hand and more people kept coming. She was lovely, humble and gracious, just as I expected.
I arrived almost an hour early and stood in the back of the room the entire time. She spoke briefly, took a few questions and then signed books. My turn came around 11:30 p.m. While I had not planned on waiting so long, I found wonderful people to talk to including Kate Wyman who is a local watercolorist. She came to buy a book for her daughter-in-law and will most likely become a reader. I also enjoyed the company of Carter who is a fellow foodie who creates blog. It is kind of silly that I waited so long, but it was fun, too.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Haunted Happenings - A Party. Some Mud and a Lot of Activity

Here's what we did during the Halloween weekend:

We had a party at school. Here are the girls. They were supposed to be coordinated. Ellie is a bee, of sorts. When I saw them with eye makeup on I was taken aback a bit. I didn't even recognize Christy at first. Her hair is normally down and she wears glasses.

Here are some of the boys. Ethan is a soldier from the museum and the other two are apocalyptic survivors.

Here's Ethan with a ghost and a walrus. The walrus costume was a big hit.

The next day we raced. It was a national level race on an extremely muddy course due to the big storm we had earlier in the week. There were riders who traveled from many places to take part in this race. In junior catagory only less than half of those who started finished.Ethan had to stop part way through. The extreme mud caked on his bike began to do damage to his brakes.

I was super proud of the girls. There were the only two girls to finish the course. The mud broke Ellie's derailleur so she had to run and carry her bike for the last mile and a half.