Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun Videos on a Friday

Today I am a bit distracted at work. We are on the verge of summer, with just a three day weekend and two day work week to go before break. I found some fun stuff on Amnesia Blog: For all things digital. I hope you find them fun, too.

Here's a really fun Nike commercial:

I liked this one, too:

I'm not sure what the product is in this ad, but it is really touching:

Here's one that starts our sort of slow, but is worth sticking with.

Finally, here's a great way to round out Fridays:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beads for School - Silent Auction Items I've made

I had a fun time making jewelry for the silent action at AVS. I hope people bid on them.

Two sizes of green, yellow, orange, red and opal seed beads on illusion filament. This is inspired by the colors on some of my favorite skirts from Coldwater Creek.

Purple, Lavender, and Dark Purple Swavorki Beads interspersed with silver chain. Purple is my favorite color and, like a raven, I am always drawn to the shiny beads when I visit a bead store. This style is fashioned after the most often sold necklaces that Bead Haven makes to sell. She tells me she can never keep them for more than a few days before they are sold.

Funky Silver metal beads with black Swavorski crystals. I love funky, unusual earrings. These remind me both of some very old, fun earrings I own as well as my young friend Ari who loves to do the whole Steam Punk scene. I think he would appreciate these.

Funky triangle swirls with silver hearts and lavender swirl beads (Matches the necklace below.) I love anything with swirls so these begged to go home with me.

Modern beaded necklace with lavender swirl beads and a silver medallion with fauna drawing. (Matches the earrings above.)This is fashioned after a friend's necklace. Kirsten wore it to Snow Mountain Ranch and I was distracted when I talked with her because I wanted to examine it. She graciously lent it to me so that I could fashion a likeness with what I had on hand.

Floating Magic Bead Necklace. This one is inspired by a necklace with fake pearls and rhinestones that I purchased for Ellie to wear with one of her cotillion dresses. Like the crystals, I seem to have to have some of these each time I go to the bead store. Once upon a time they were easy to find, now I am lucky to find even a few.

Which do you like best? I'm finding it hard to place a beginning bid price.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Practicing for Summer

This weekend was wonderful, unrushed and fun. I've made a few pieces of jewelry for the silent auction at AVS (I'll post photos of them later), I've gardened, I walked around down town with the intent of visiting EVOO, a store devoted to wonderful, gourmet vinegars and olive oils. I've also cooked a fun meal. I made a variation on the following recipe that I found via The Pioneer Woman:

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesedillas ala Pioneer Woman


* 8 whole Flour Tortillas
* Butter Or Margarine
* 2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced
* 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
* Salt And Pepper, to taste
* 3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
* 1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
* Cilantro
* 3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce

Here's my version:

8 whole Flour Tortillas
Butter Or Margarine
2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Cajun Seasoning, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheeses, Grated
3 Tablespoons Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Regular, good quality Balsamic would be great, too!)

Preparation Instructions

(To grill pineapple: cut wedges, stick on skewers, and grill over low heat. Cut into slices.)(I did not use skewers, I simply flipped them with tongs.)

(To pound chicken, place inside a Ziploc bag and pound with a mallet or large can to flatten to uniform thickness.)

Sprinkle with flattened raw chicken with the salt and pepper and Cajun spice (or cumin/cayenne, etc.) Drizzle olive oil on a grill pan and grill on both sides until done, (brushing with barbecue sauce). Set aside and slice into very thin slices.

Pioneer Woman - Warm griddle over medium heat and put sizzling butter or margarine in the pan. Slightly warm and toast tortillas on both sides, then remove from griddle and set aside.) I did not do this.

To assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. If desired, drizzle extra barbecue sauce (or the balsamic vinegar) over the top. Add second browned tortilla on top of each one. (You’ll have four complete quesadillas at this point.)

Add to oven to warm, or back to skillet to warm, until cheese is melted. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I believe that it is important to volunteer to support what you value so that it will continue to be available. But the time I spend volunteering to do various things is not a totally selfless act. In fact, I get a lot out of it. It feels wonderful to support someone else's dream. It is energizing to see the expressions on people's faces when you offer them something free or at a very reduced price. It is sort of like giving a gift to a stranger.It helps me rise above the funk that difficult days can put me in. It is my hope that by doing such small acts of kindness as putting pushing a heavy cart of grocery's to a person's car and loading them into the trunk (with the hopes that someone on the other end will help unload and carry them into the person's house (something I did many times last week)) will help another person focus more on the gift of an unexpected kindness than the current political state, the ills of the world, or even how they don't feel totally up to par. Sometimes this is hard, especially when the end of a school year comes. Everyone is tired and stressed - so ready to be done. It is then that it is important to remember to be kind, even when parts of myself want to take part in the crank-fest.

Sometimes my kids don't understand this. They grow impatient when they want to go home and have to stay at event for a long time. Other times I see that they have internalized this code of behavior. I see it when my kids shovel the walks of the many elderly people who live on our block. Those folks simply awake to find it done, not even knowing, I suppose, that my kids were looking out for them. I see it in my son's face when he helps someone out, adding a finishing touch with a hand shake and an honest look of respect at the person. I see it in my daughter who uses her uncanny ability to help two fighting people find resolution or help people who think they have nothing in common find a way to interact with joy.

I just know that when my end comes, I hope that I will be remembered and measured not by the material goods or accomplishments as a result of my life, but by the quality of people my children are, but the goodwill I have spread and by the joy or sense of self value I have helped impart in others.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Prepping for Snow Mountain Ranch

Every year Alpine Valley School families go to Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park for a weekend retreat. We rent a large cabin intended for family reunions and have the overflow folks stay in the lodge that is just a short bit away. We do semi-communal meals. Here's what I am packing for us to eat:

Friday Dinner:
Cream Cheese Chicken

1 Pk. Italian Dressing Mix (generic works nicely)
3-4 Chicken Breasts, cubed
1 Stick Butter
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
8 oz. Cream Cheese
Noodles/Brown Rice/Grilled Polenta

Saute the chicken in the butter. Next, add the dressing and stir. Then add the soup and the cream cheese. Let simmer until well blended. Serve over noodles or rice or grilled polenta.

You can also make this in a crock pot.


Breakfast: Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches


Grilled Steak with Montreal Seasoning

Orzo Salad

4 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cup Orzo (pasta)
15 oz. Garbanzo Beans
3/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup Mint, finely chopped
1-2 cups Fresh Mozzarella (I used Queso Fresco - Mexican Crumbling Cheese) cubed
3/4 cup Red Wine Vinegrette

Bring the broth to a boil and add the orzo. Cook until nearly al dente. Cool the pasta slightly. While the pasta is cooking, chop the onion, basil, mint and cheese. Toss all of the ingredients and mix with enough red wine vinaigrette to coat. Serve cold.

Snack: Chex Mix M&Ms and Gold Fish Crackers added

Sunday Breakfast:

Cinnamon FRENCH TOAST Casserole by The Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour Difficulty: Easy Servings: 12

* 1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
* 8 whole Eggs
* 2 cups Whole Milk
* ½ cups Whipping (heavy) Cream
* ¾ cups Sugar
* 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
* Topping
* ½ cups All-purpose Flour
* ½ cups Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
* 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* 1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
* Fresh Fruit (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. (If you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.

(Feedback - This was very popular, just as I had expected. I did not have the maple syrup,but not a single person who ate this seemed to notice. I made enough for about 15 people, so I think that is a bit of reliable data.

Possible alternations: Next time I may consider adding in small walnut or pecan bits into the topping. I may also throw in some chopped apples that have been sauted in butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Or I may simply try adding in bits of dried apple. Either way = yum!)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Larr's Skydiving Adventure

Our young friends Andreas and Aubrey gave Larr as skydiving jump as a special gift for Christmas. Today was the big day. He was a bit nervous, but mostly just excited. Here's how it went:

He says he wants to take each of the kids once they are old enough to do it. You have to be 18 years old to jump.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Really Bad Day

Today was a really bad day at work. I think I have not had a day like today for...uhm... about 11 years. It was a bad combination of the potential of students boiled down to nothing more than testing scores combined with many cases of gnarly senioritis on steroids. It was enough to make me feel slightly pukey for much of the day.

I decided to counter it with a little junk food and a fluffy, silly movie. I prescribed cheap grocery store pizza, everybody's favorite flavors of potato chip and "The Tooth fairy." I was going to top it off with an Icee, but I walked calmly by the machine without making a purchase. I loved Dwayne Johnson in "Game Plan" so I thought I would like him in this one and I was right.

Before we started the movie I sewed a few patches onto Ethan's Boy Scout sash as he will need it this weekend. He will be leaving from school to go to the Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch near Elbert Count (a bit east of Colorado Springs) to take part in his ordeal for the Order of the Arrow, a fraternal service organization in Scouting. It is an honor to be taking part in the ordeal as each troop gets to nominate one scout each year. Ethan will spend the better part of the weekend working alone and silently, helping to get the camp grounds ready for the upcoming camping season. If he is successful he will be awarded an OA sash and be welcomed into the Brotherhood of the Tahosa Lodge. He makes me proud.

And he helps me forget about a really bad day at work...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Cotillion Ball at the Brown Palace

The ball for the Spring Cotillion class took place at the Brown Palace in Denver.

Ellie, Anna and Christy looked lovely.

Ethan danced with Ellie a few times.

Arie and Laura had a good time, too.

Arie is a wonderful character.

Ellie wishes that it was not over. She is thinking about taking dancing classes this summer and another cotillion class in the fall.