Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Cleaning and a 1980's College New Wave Music GrooveShark Playlist and a Magic Spinach Ring Recipe

There are a few ways to spend one's Spring Break. Last year we went on various adventures. This year we are knee deep in the cleaning type of adventures. We've been painting, cleaning and being buddies with Good Will. I thought a good playlist would help the cleaning go faster. Here's the music I added to my playlist:

One of the treasures unearthed was a recipe that we enjoyed about four years ago. I had hunted for it last year and could not find it. I even scoured the internet only to come up empty handed. If you have an Easter potluck, this might just be the thing. Even people who don't like spinach like this dish:

Magic Spinach Ring

1 box frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg
Seasonings to taste = salt, pepper, garlic, dried onion, cayenne pepper, basil, etc.
1 pound Swiss Cheese, grated
2 packages Pilsbury Crescent Rolls (I think the Garlic ones are best)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the spinach with the egg and season to your liking. Add the grated cheese.Unwrap the crescent rolls, using them to form a star on your baking sheet. Mold the center of the star to hold the spinach mix. Scoop the spinach mixture to form a circle, twist up the crescent roll dough into the center and press into place. Bake for 45 minutes. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ice Man Cometh

Ah, Spring Time in Colorado - it proves the saying, "If you don't like the weather wait a few minutes and it will change." That was oh so evident on Tuesday. I cut out of work as quickly as possible to pick up the kids and get to the bargain showing of "Alice in Wonderland 3D" in an effort to celebrate Ellie's birthday. When we entered the theater the sky was spitting rain, not the soft sit-on-a-couch-with-a-cuppa-tea-and-enjoy-the-beautiful-pitter-patter-of-rain-on-the-window, but a quick-toss-your-hood-up-or-get-pelted-in-the-face-and-have-it-go-down-your-shirt kind of rain. But we were on a quest since I had wanted to see the movie since I heard that Tim Burton was making it, Ellie was never really properly celebrated friends style, Anna could certainly use distraction from her first boyfriend break-up broken heart, Ethan was as jazzed as I was to see the movie and Brandon just loves movies so he wanted to join in our fun, too. We loved the movie! As we walked to the car our swirl of conversation and excitement was engulfed in the blizzard that had hit.

By the next morning it would dump about 11" in our town. The kids were cool with that. They went to school for a while the next day and my two dreamed up plans for a snow fort. By then the sky was the amazing blue of the John Denver songs, the air was warm and the kids were prepared to build.

They used our oval boxes that we use to haul around our waterbottles. They quickly learned about filling the boxes with snow, being careful to tamp in the corners, tamp in the top and using a large machete to level the blocks. They were even clever enough to figure out how to move them around effectively. They worked with the snow that was to be found in the sunny areas first since it would likely melt the fastest. That meant that those blocks would also freeze nicely over the night.

Some kids from the neighborhood were curious, standing about four houses down, watching. If they had come closer we might have invited them to join us. They picked up a long stick and started hitting a fence with it. This made Ethan worry that they would wreck the snow fort, but that has not happened.

They had hoped to finish it, but time and energy waned and so it sits for another day. The forecast looks promising for another opportunity to work on it before it melts.

Here's some fun, unrelated videos (some of which could contain a bit of profanity - sorry, but they are still funny!)

"Academy Award Winning Movie"

Romeo and Juliet with a Different Ending by Sassy Gay Friend

Hamlet by Sassy Gay Friend

Okay Go - This Too Shall Pass

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sequins and a Bloody Bandanna

Sunday at our house was a perfect example of the difference in gender. Ethan rose early in order to be ready to go on a snowmobiling adventure for the first time. larr and I got up with him to make sure he was ready. He tried on his new helmet, admiring it, several times. He joined his former boss, Bob, for the day. They arrived in Grandby an hour before the shop where he keeps his snowmobiles was open so they went out for a steak and eggs breakfast. They then headed for the field to play and ride. It is an expanse of about 200 acres, most of it flat. Ethan has an absolute blast, until he crashed. He got going at about 75 mph zooming across the field. He assumed that it was just like the other edge and completely flat. However, he was terribly wrong. As he approached the edge he could see that there was a ditch, but at about 2-3 seconds away, he could not slow down much. His reality went into slow motion just before he hit the ditch. The impact caused his body to fly up and he hit his face on the way down. Thankfully the helmet and the goggles took the brunt of the impact. The lenses on the goggles broke into pieces and cut the bridge of his nose. Ethan says he is pretty sure he would be very seriously injured or maybe even dead if he had not been wearing the helmet. The cut right between the eyes gushed lots of blood, soaking the bandanna he had been wearing. Bob sped over to make sure Ethan was alright. They used a baggie with snow to keep down the swelling. For a while we thought he might get two black eyes, but that does not seem like the case today. He came home and took a warm bath. They he and his dad went to hunter safety class. He also has a soar back. I think he would have been fine with some black eye action - it would have been a good boy badge.

Ellie, on the other hand, spent some of the day being lazy and trying on different hair styles for cotillion. I spent some time altering her dress. It is my favorite of the ones we bought so far, but it needed to be taken in. We joined the others at Connie's and Christy's house so the girls could get ready together. I made soup and brought stuff for salad so that we could spent the entire evening together. We stuffed all of us into my van and were off. I love how daylight savings time means that there was still the glorious sunshine and blue skies when we arrived.
I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of the girls and one of the three moms. Last night's class was a bit more difficult than the first. The girls took the lead this week doing the introductions and getting the refreshments. They were introduced to the electric slide (not the disco version, but the hands over the head, slide along the shoulders, hop and spin version). It was a hoot to watch the kids try to master it. Some kids clearly have rhythm and coordination, while others do not. Ellie is somewhere in the middle. She had a few dance partners who would not venture to try the new moves. One super cute boy added his own flare by doing the girl's moves, too. He would spin Ellie, then he would spin himself. She also got to dance with Jackson again this week. He is fun and can dance. The girls were all chatter on the way home. Some much hard work left them hungry and desiring ice cream so we stopped at Good Times for spoonbenders on the way home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Bit of Shopping, a Bit of Cooking and Old People Acting Bad

I'm working my way through redesigning the team website. I'm muddling along with the help of videos from my friend's web design class and the videos over at Dreamweaver is an awesome program, but oh so complicated, just like all of the other Adobe programs. It is both exciting to see it develop and frustrating when it does not go how I want it to go.

Ellie and I also spent a bit of time shopping. This time we were looking for me. For over a month I have been stopping by shops that I thought might have something I could wear to the cotillon balls that each of the kids will have. I brought a lovely, flowy skirt from Coldwater Creek, but both Ellie and Ethan declared that it looked like an old lady couch. So the hunt continued. Most of what is out there is my size seems to be too old, too much like a gypsy/hippie, a shabby country princess or simply too expensive. We finally found some good stuff at Upscale Plus, a consignment shop near my house. It is black with large pink flowers, green leaves and a simple ribbon sash. We then picked up some nice flats and a cropped sweater. I am both pleased and relieved to have found something that I like.

We had Don over for dinner to hear about his trip to California and make sure that he had company on Grandma Eleanor's birthday. He will mark the occasion by placing roses by her grave marker. The family was happy to find that I made Monte Cristo sandwiches. I've used a few recipes over the years, but this seems to be the best one. One of the recipes I based this one off of had you deep fry it. I thought that was too much, so I have it in a spot of butter instead. We finished up the evening by watching "Young at Heart," an excellent movie.

Monte Cristo Sandwich
2/3 cup water
1 egg
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 slices wheat bread
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices turkey
4 slices ham
4 tablespoons jelly (raspberry, strawberry or boysenberry)
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoon confectioners' sugar for dusting


1. Heat up a skillet on medium high. Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper; whisk into the egg mixture until smooth. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Assemble sandwiches by placing smearing Dijon mustard on one slice of bread and the jelly on the other slice of bread. Next, place a slice of turkey on one slice of bread, a slice of ham on another (If you do not have both ham and turkey, you can simply use two slices of the meat that you have on hand), then sandwich them with the Swiss cheese in the middle. Cut sandwiches into halves, and secure with toothpicks, if needed (I don't usually need them).
3. Dip each sandwich half in the batter so that all sides are coated. Melt a bit of butter in the hot pan and place the sandwich in it. Turn them once they have browned nicely. If the cheese is not melting quickly enough you may need to put a lid on the pan briefly. Remove toothpicks and arrange on a serving tray. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hot Kentucky Brown - A Nice Recipe for a Cold Day

I enjoy reading recipes. I adore cook books. I have a grand time over at "Tasty Kitchen". Here's a recipe that I had bookmarked for a while. Yesterday it was shorts and flip flop weather. Today it is snow boots and heavy winter coats. I thought it would be nice to have a comforting dinner and this was just the ticket:

Hot Kentucky Brown
from Tasty Kitchen by The Pioneer Woman

* ½ cups Butter
* 6 Tablespoons Flour
* 3-½ cups Milk (2% Or Whole)
* 6 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
* Salt And Pepper, to taste
* Leftover Cooked Turkey And/or Ham, Shredded
* 8 slices Bread, Toasted
* 8 slices Tomato
* 8 slices Bacon, Slightly Undercooked
* 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, Shredded

Preparation Instructions

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until well incorporated. Cook about 1 minute. Add milk and whisk quickly to avoid lumps. Add Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium heat until it begins to boil, stirring constantly. Sauce will thicken and be almost like a batter.

Put one slice of toast on each of four oven-save plates. Cover with the leftover turkey and/or ham and top each with another piece of toast. Drizzle 1-2 cups of sauce over top of sandwich, covering it entirely and covering the base of the plate. Put two slices of bacon on top of sauce and four half-slices of tomato around the sandwich.

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese on top of everything. Place plate under broiler for 2-4 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately. Be careful, for the plate is very hot!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Little Dancin' and a Bike Fix

On Sunday the girls, Ellie, Anna and Christy, had their first cotillion class and loved it. They were a bit nervous, of course. But once it got going they loved it, especially the dancing part.

They learned about doing proper introductions, how to share refreshments in a proper, respectful manner and they did a whole lot of dancing. They learned the Fox Trot, the Jitter Bug, The Mamba and the beginning steps for a few others. Interestingly, there were six more boys than there were girls. Consequently, the boys had to take turns cutting in. There was a five second rule that if you did not have a partner, an instructor would find one for you. Some times it was a bit comical as there is a vast difference in size in this age range. It is a session for 6th-8th graders. Some of them were just about half as tall as Ellie and a few looked many years younger. When one of the girls danced with a boy who was much shorter, they'd have to bend their knees to make it work. The result was humorous. It was touching, too.

Some of the boys would not look at their dance partner (Ethan tells me it is the same with the girls in his class.) A few were ready to strike up conversation. Ellie found those boys more interesting to dance with. Many of them seemed to be Lacrosse players. One boy, Jackson, found a way to dance with Ellie three times and he refused to let the others cut in. She enjoyed his conversation (he is pretty funny) and appreciated his ability to dance a bit. Anna's boyfriend, Nial, is in the class, too. They found ways to dance together a few times. I was touched when they spied a girl without a partner (all of the partner free boys were on the other side of the crowded dance floor.) who seemed a bit lonely. Anna and Nial decided that she needed to dance, so Nial danced with her and Anna found another person to dance with. I found that very considerate and thoughtful.

Ethan had his third class. The focus was on how to eat at a fancy restaurant. Ethan was volunteered to demonstrate. He found it interesting to see how differently you would eat something, such as steak, here as compared to how to handle the silverware in the UK. They did a present drive too. Instead of having one of us take care of it, he picked out his own present. It was fun to watch. Walking through the young child toy area was a walk down memory lane for him. Certain toys sparked memories not often visited. He selected a colorful, wooden block set that comes in a wooden wagon. He wanted the child to have something creative.

On an entirely different note, here's a cool video I stumbled upon when I was uploading my most recent show for our bike team.

"It's Your Ride" by Cinecycling on

It's Your Ride from Cinecycle on Vimeo.

The music is "The Hustle" by Alan Wilkis.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine...(Here's where you begin to hum the song from The Beatles along with me...)

Today was Ellie's first race of the season and it was not such a great start. She spent last evening and all of the ride to the race gritching. She had a dream that she had a big crash during the race. She talked about how once she was done biking that she might take up running. She complained about all kinds of things, including my encouraging them to race. It made me so sad. I thought she loved biking and racing, but I knew that she was still had lingering bits of feeling burned out. She worried that the training indoors on the trainer had not helped. She worried that she had lost all of her skill and knowledge. I told her it is in her bones, that she is strong, talented and beautiful. That is when she started to attack me. Then I simply felt angry and sad. I just want her to be happy. I don't have any dreams of her becoming pro or racing in Europe. Her anxiety started to cause me to doubt myself, too. I had to keep reminding myself to deflect her negative energy. I had to keep reminding myself that this race course was the very same place where she had her big crash that put a hole in her elbow nearly two years ago.

Then we arrived, got signed in and she started to warm up. Actually, she sneaked over and looked for the skid marks on the pavement that bore testament to her big crash. They had still be visible last year. This year they were gone. Shew putzed around the parking lot, did a bit of visiting and then she did a practice lap. She came back smiling, declaring that it was not as tough as she had remembered. I reminded her that she should be able to get off of the line faster with the new bike. Then she did a few more laps. Each time she had a bigger smile and the dark cloud above her head began to shrink. Then she was finally happy. By the time her race was over she was back to her smiling, happy self and I was relieved. Her dreaded anticipation was over and she was back in the game. The hills were fun and it landed her in second place. Tom, the race promoter and quite possibly the most pro-junior promoter you could find, gave prem prizes to everyone. Ellie got the no crash prem, a gift of much welcomed chocolate milk. By the time we left the race her spring was back in her step and she was happy again. On the way home we stopped for a much desired doughnut from Lamar's and a Vanilla latte. And I sighed a breath of relief.

After a quick shower the family headed over to Holly West for a Mexican food lunch with the rest of the family to celebrate Ellie's and Larr's birthdays. It was fun to see everyone and remind my sister that her boys are going into fine young men as she still wants them to be little boys. I look forward to seeing what they will blossom into. Orlando is old enough that we get glimpes of who he will become from time to time.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the glorious sunshine. It has been such a while since we could be outside for an extended time without our coats. We cleaned up the back yard. It was littered with small branches from the recent tree trimming. Larr and Ethan also began to take down our ancient wood swing set. We've had it since the kids were tiny. I thought I would be sad to see it go since we had so much fun on it. However, I was actually happy to see how open it will make that part of the yard feel. We bagged that debris and I began to work on cleaning out the veggie garden while Ethan worked on taking out the concrete.

The end of my evening was spent at the Meininger's Teacher Appreciation Night, an event that I anticipate eagerly each year. I will write about that tomorrow. I'll leave you with a bit of what I am inspired by during recent web wanderings.

Lovely jewelry by Madison Reece (via Smidgebox)

Jewelry by Sea Find Designs (via Candied Fabric blog)

Engaging woodcuts by Peppersprouts (they have lots of stuff I love).

And finally, several things from Geninne over at (a place that is at once inspiring and dangerous).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Larr's Birthday and Some Great Recipes

Tuesday was Larr's birthday. He didn't want us to buy presents, but we still wanted to make it special so I made a nice dinner. We invited his dad, my mother and had a little party. I made ribeye steak, mashed potatoes and peas. Ellie made his favorite chocolate chip cookies and I picked up some Enstrom's toffee. Don brought two nice bottles of red wine. My mom provided chocolate turtles and pistachios. It was a nice time.

Pioneer Woman's Pan Fried Ribeye Steak


* 2 pieces (about 8 Oz. Each) Ribeye Steak
* 1 Tablespoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
* 3 Tablespoons Lemon And Pepper Seasoning
* 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
* Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
* 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
* 1 Tablespoon Butter

Preparation Instructions

Mix the seasonings all together in a small bowl to create a rub and massage into your steaks.

Bring a skillet to a medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Get these two nice and hot until the butter is beginning to brown. With tongs, set the steak right onto the sizzling butter/oil mixture.

Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side and then flip and turn the heat down to a medium-low to finish off the cooking. Cooking it for about 2 ½ minutes on the second side will result in a medium-rare piece of meat. Alter your cooking time a little to achieve a steak that is a little less pink in the center. Let steak rest for a couple minutes before digging in.

* We do not have a skillet with the raised ribs and my cast iron skillet was smaller than my smallest steak. I simply used a non-stick pan and it worked beautifully.

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Mashed Potatoes

* 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
* ¾ cups Butter
* 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened*
* ½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
* ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
* ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

* You can view a blow by blow tutorial over at

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Finally a Teen - Ellie turns 13!

Here's to my special girl who turns 13 today.

Dear Ellie,

I love who you are becoming. Who could have imaged how you would change from this time last year. Last March I haunted every Target store in the area to buy you that oh-so-desirable men's XXL Avalanche hockey jersey. This March we are on the hunt for the perfect party dresses, shoes and an occasional hair accessory.

I appreciate your dry whit and your ability to pull off a joke with a straight face. I love how I see my own mother in you- your love for shoes, coats, shopping, your consideration of others, etc. I love how you are a peacemaker; I appreciate and respect your ability to find a way to make people in every kind of group feel noticed and included, usually. I love your stories of self reflection, like your story about how when you were little you saw sparkly rainbow rocks in the trees and everything was a big, wonderful adventure. I marvel at your strength and conviction - may you have that your entire life - it will get you places and keep you sane. I appreciate your stubbornness (even though it is hard to parent)for it will serve you well, too.

Here's to your journey to becoming an incredible young woman. It will be an exciting,difficult and meaningful journey.

Love you with all my heart,

What Kept Me Busy - Black Sheep 2009 Season Recap

Here's what I've been working on. Picking the music was a challenge, but Ethan helped me find a song that worked. I is "Spybreak!" by Propellerhead. It is from "The Matrix".

Black Sheep Cycling 2009 from Tammy Welshon on Vimeo.

Aren't the kids wonderful!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Alice, Tim and Ellie

Today Tim Burton's vision of "Alice in Wonderland" comes out. I've been eagerly anticipating this movie for some time. I absolutely love Tim Burton's style. However, I think I will wait a short while until seeing it so that I don't have to fight huge crowds just to see the movie.

The movie is not just a remake of the original, but rather what might happen if Alice went back when she was 19 years old. The White Queen has a new, darker side and the Red Queen has plenty of hissy fits, of course.

Tomorrow Ellie turns 13. She was excited about it in the fall, but now seems none plused. She says, "Mom, my friends are thirteen already. We had fun celebrating when they became teenagers, but I already feel thirteen." When I ask her how she wants to celebrate her birthday she says she does not have an idea. Ditto when I ask her what she wants for her special dinner. I even suggested what I thought were some of her favorites, Caesar Salad and Maple Pecan Pie, but even that did not stir any useful response. So, what's a mom to do? I guess I'll sit by the sidelines until I know what she does or does not want.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Ethan's First Cotillion Class

Wow, has it really been just over a week since I posted? I hate when that happens. It is always during those periods where I have too many after work meetings. Last week was so busy that I don't think I had an entirely free evening from Sunday until Friday. Then I spent the weekend cleaning and getting some computer work done. Okay, enough already. This post is actually about Ethan's first cotillion class.

As I mentioned before, I was surprised at how excited Ethan was for his classes to start. He even carefully scheduled his day to make sure he had plenty of time to get ready. Ellie was excited for him, too. We were all curious as to what it would actually be like. I had expected that Larr and I would go together, drop him off, go have coffee somewhere and then pick him back up. I even dressed the part, complete with rhinestone studded hairclips. However, Ethan gently informed me that this was sort of his thing with dad (since they have done all the shopping, lessons on ironing and how to do a tie) and that I should stay home. I was momentarily disappointed, but very quickly swept away by the sweetness of that sentiment and so I took photos instead. It really was sort of a Rockwell type of moment.

They left with plenty of time to find the Elk's Lodge and arrive on time. Ellie and I worked on computer based stuff. I finished the edits for a technical manual Larr wrote and then completed the sets of 2009 Black Sheep racing photo pages I started a while back. I was very happy, and a bit relieved, frankly, to be done with that. It was fun, but got a bit repetitious since we have so many kids on our team. Once I make a cover, spine and back I will post a slide show. We both kept an eye on the time. We were hot to find out how it all went.

The boys arrived home a little after 9:00 p.m. Ethan was still very excited and had a great time. Once they arrived the instructors had the boys line up against one wall and the girls along another. They were then put into pairs. Each person met the other. Then they went through a receiving line with the young man introducing the young lady and learning to shake hands with a proper amount of grip and a gleam in their eyes. After that the young men escorted the ladies to the tables. This was followed by dance instruction. They did the fox trot, the tango and the jitterbug. The dancers changed partners with each dance. By the end of the evening Ethan had danced with six young ladies. There was also a break during which the young man seats the lady, then retrieves refreshments, being sure to offer the young lady her choice of drinks first. During all of this there is a lot of bowing and curtsying. At the end of the evening they learned how to have a proper parting and were on their way. Ethan came home brimming with advice for his young sister. He was firm in the idea that she should wear gloves, "Ellie, think of it. Each guy dances with six girls. He always touches her shoulder and her hand. That is like you touching all of those guys, plus the ones the other girls danced with. You have to get some gloves!" Her eyes were wide. This girl who previously announced that she would not wear gloves quickly changed her mind. He then preceded to give her a bit of dance instruction and talked the whole time about how he can't wait for the next class. I could not have asked for a better report!