Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wondering the Streets Downtown - Skating, Shopping and Eating

Laurel, Rhys and their mom, Mike, came up from Monument to hang out with us yesterday. Ethan, Rhys and Larr spent time at the Hidee Mine.

We girls went downtown. Ellie and Laurel went skating. Mike and I rode the shuttle up the mall then did a wee bit of shopping.

I thought these vintage inspired decorations were lovely.

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Once we were back home the girls did silly stuff while Mike and I made jewelry from beads and bike parts (spoke nipples).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Black Sheep Ladies Holiday Party

Last Monday Ellie and I went to Coach Lawanna's house for a small party.

Cheeseburger Soup

1 tea. Butter

1 pound Ground Sirloin or Hamburger

1 cup Onion, diced

¾ cup Celery, diced

½ cup Carrots, diced

1 tea. Garlic, minced

3 cups Chicken Broth

2 cups Russet Potatoes, peeled & diced

1 tea. Basil

3 TBL. Butter

¼ cup Flour

1½ cup Milk

2 cup Cheddar, shredded

¼ cup Ketcup

2 TBL. Yellow Mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

Shoestring Potatoes (optional)

Croutons (Optional)

1. In a large pan, brown the butter, meat, onion, celery, carrots and garlic.

2. Stir in the broth, potatoes and basil. Cook until the potatoes are tender.

3. In a separate pan, make a roux with the butter, flour and milk.(To make a roux - melt the butter. Add the flour and stir around with the back of a spoon or spatula until the flour absorbs the melted butter.Next, add the milk and stir gently until the roux lumps are gone and the milk is thickened.) Add this to the soup.

4. At the last moment add in the cheddar cheese, ketchup, mustard and salt & pepper. Stir into soup and serve. Top each bowl with a little extra cheese. It can be fun to also top with shoestring potatoes and/or croutons.

A Limo Ride to See the Lights - What Fun!

We were gifted with a lovely surprize last week when some friends, The Cure Family, took us to see Christmas lights in a limo.

The kids, especially Ellie, were thrilled. They graciously allowed Ariana to ride along, making it even more fun for my girl.

It was a lot of fun. I had not been in one since high school. I found that getting in and out of it was difficult. Those stars that exit so gracefully at movie premere must practice. Our driver, Shane, was great about offering his hand in assistance, but I seemed to mostly bumble my way out. Perhaps it was because I had been making the stooped over trek from the seat at the front of the limo.

We tried out all of the buttons, had a peek to see what was in the trunk and enjoyed some refreshments.

It was very festive. There were lights that changed colors under the stemware and glasses.

Seeing the Christmas lights is one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season.

I'd love the that to become a new tradition!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Recap and a New Recipe Site

We had a lovely Christmas - we hope you did, too.

Ellie began learning how to operate and use her new IPod.

Karen H. gave our kitties the best kitty house ever made. They love it.

Moxy and Toby love hanging out under the tree. They are happy to have some of the outdoors inside.

Ellie and Ethan got a bit silly in the evening.

Ethan was excited for the day, even though he was still sleepy.

Ellie made her dad some coasters. I love handmade presents.

Reisha liked having everyone home. She got to go to Grandpa's house with us.

After a leisurely morning at home, we packed up a bunch of the food I had been preparing to go over to Grandpa Don's house where we had more Christmas and a special family meal.

I've taken over making the special meal. This year we started with appetizers of pistachios, puff pastries with nice fillings, some aged salami with bagel chips and lovely Satsuma oranges. The next course featured a venison stew and a nice spinach, walnut, pomegrante and dried cherry salad that Perrin made. Our main course featured Beef Wellington, tricolored roasted potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. My mother also made sweet potatoes as per Don's request. For dessert we had one of Aunt Kathy's chocolate cake and Perrin's pecan pie.

I am planning post about the Beef Wellington later one. I am also creating a new, related site where I will post the recipes I feature here. It should make it faster to find a desired recipe. It is

Friday, December 24, 2010

Glittery Goodness and Fun - A Glitter Tutorial

I love snowflakes. I used to try and find a few snowflake cookie cutter every year, but I have not found any new ones for a few years.

This year I was thrilled to find large wooden and wonderful ones at The Container Store. I knew they would bring me the same snowflake cookie decorating joy and I would not have to feed them to the squirrels at the end of the season. I purchased two sets and Wendy purchased three. That gave us enough for a lot of fun.

I love working with glitter. I prefer to work with Art System Glitter or Martha Stewart glitter. She has a lovely array of colors and types. I have regular and tinsel glitter. The tinsel glitter is a long, thin shape, as opposed to the usual hexigon. It has a very particular look - great for snowy effect.

Wendy had never done glitter projects. This gave me the idea that others might benefit from a glittering tutorial. Here's our process:

Pick your item to be glittered and decide if it needs and interesting colored background. Ellie and I painted ours white. I had not even considered other colors. However, I was very inspired by the base coats that Laura, Caroline and Wendy put on their snowflakes. It made me rethink my process.

I loved the tye dye effect on Laura's snowflake. Its subtle beauty does not show up very well here.

This was my favorite snowflake by Caroline. I love her unconstrained use of color.

It is important to prepare your area for effective use. I put down several layers of newspaper (with a preference for the "weekend magazine" type inserts since they are not too large and they feature a nice folded crease - great for pouring the glitter back into the bottles.) This protects your surface from glue and glitter. It also allows you to discard paper as it gathers too much glue or you need to change you color of glitter. The top layer is the waxed paper (cooking parchment works well, too.) I put a crease it in before laying it out. This is the nicest surface to work on. There are no images or boxes of distracting text, allowing you to focus on your designs.

We also set out all of the glitters we are going to use, as well as at least two bowls of water for cleaning the glue off of the brushes. Cupcake papers are a nice container for the glue. Sometimes we also pull out the rhinestones.

Apply the glue in a generous way. Ellie is painting on glue for a large area that will get one color of glitter. You can use the glue in a bottle or a small brush to apply more delicate lines of glitter. Stickles are a lovely way to apply fine lines of glitter without the glittery mess.

(image from

Next, you pour on the glitter. Don't worry about using too much. You will pour the unused glitter back into the bottle.

It is important to me to keep each of my glitter colors pure, so I switch to new paper/waxpaper with each glitter color change.

You don't have to wait for one color to dry before applying the next color, you just have to be careful to not put your fingers in the wet glue areas.

This snowflake features the oh-so-cool ombre technique. Martha Stewart has a great tutorial on how to do it. I begin with cupcake liners. I applied glue to the center and used white glitter. Then I mixed 1 TBL of white glitter and 1 tea. of purple glitter in a cupcake paper liner. I then applied glue and glitter to the next section. I repeated the process, adding 1 TBL while glitter and 2.5 tea. purple glitter, mixed and glued. I continued until I was using just purple glitter. I will add rhinestones to it soon. It is a fun and impressive technique.

Ellie's lovely creations -

This is an assortment made by both us us -

I also came across this great idea when I was looking for something else. I love the idea. It is from Jen Stewart, posted over at 2Peas in a Bucket.

Here's a nice site that has another glitter storage idea, complete with free label downloads and information about German Glass Glitter (very nice stuff, but not really little kid-friendly.)
Just Something Made blog also has a very nice tutorial on making amazing paper snowflakes here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Year We're Feelin' Blue for Christmas, and a Recipe

This year it is a Blue Christmas for us - all blue lights on the tree, blue skies with no snow (a bit off for me, I must say) and a chance to see the "Blue Man Group" perform. Red and green might be the official holiday colors, but I am diggin' blue this year.

One of the interesting things about living with teenagers is that you count on the fact that things will never stay the same. I'm liking what that means this year.
Last year Ellie urged me to put up as few holiday decorations as I could. They made her feel crowded and the house look messy, according to her.

This year it is a different tune. She was right at the front, pushing to decorate. She had a strong vision of what she wanted and I am happy to accommodate it. She had visions of a blue Christmas. Ellie wanted to have just blue and silver on our tree. I told her that we needed to have some of my favorite ornaments up, too. She agreed, hanging them towards the back. We love the blue LED lights. Larr says that he thinks they are too bright, but he puts up with them anyway.

Each December Mark and Lilia take Ethan and Ellie to do something special. This year they treated them to dinner at Cafe Paraiso for dinner and then to the theater to see the "Blue Man Group." Ethan declared that it was to coolest thing they've ever done together. He wants to go again next year. Heck, he'd be happy to see the same show again this year.

I had my own thing to do. I went to a friend's birthday party and had a lot of fun. There was good food, interesting conversation Barb is a doctor, one friend is a nurse and the other ladies had lots of great stories). We also had a lot of fun playing Blockus, a game where you try to use as many of your game pieces as possible. Each piece has to touch a corner of a previous piece from your color, but it cannot be flush against it. It is a great visual/spacial strategy game.

Barb asked me to bring something that would work for vegetarians, so I brought a variation on the orzo salad I like so well.

Orzo Salad II

1 1/2 Orzo, dried
15 oz. Garbanzo Beans (I used dried beans that I dehydrated, canned works fine, too)
1 1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/2-3/4/cup Raspberry Vingiarette (to taste)
1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
1-2 cups Casero Cheese, cubed (Mexican Cheese)

Cook the Orzo. If you are not serving vegetarians, you can cook it in 4 cups of chicken broth for a nice flavor. Drain. In a bowl mix the orzo, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, basil, mint and cheese. Toss to mix well. Toss with the raspberry vinaigrette, beginning with a small amount. The dressing should brighten the flavors, not drown them out.

This keeps and travels well.