Friday, September 24, 2010


I feel like I am surrounded with illness, but somehow I have avoided catching any of it. I've spent a lot of my time with my sickies. They rest, I knit. I'm making my first pair of knitted mittens. After scoping out lots of patterns on Ravelry, I picked "Whoville Mittens" by Linsaypai. I loved the care she took with her patterns and her mittens looked comfortable. I simply changed out the colors a bit.

A few weeks back the sick-o-rama started with Ellie's weeping sore that was almost 3" across on her scalp. She had hit her head on the banister to the stairs and injured herself. As it began to heal she scratched at it. The injury contracted a Staff infection. That day she called me from school telling me she was turning into a dinosaur. The infection had caused the lymph nodes on her neck to become swollen and hard. It looked like someone had pushed a line of peanut M&Ms under her skin. The nodes closer to her collar bone were large and swollen, looking like skin colored slugs. That was followed by a 102 degree fever. We saw the doctor the next day and got her on some amazing antibiotics. A day and a half later, Ethan became ill, too. Then two days later it was Larr who was sick. His was so bad that he needed Vicodin for the pain. They all finished all of their meds. On Sunday Ellie was back to feeling sick. By Sunday night it was clear that we needed to do something. Our friend who was a doctor recommended we take her to the ER since she had some of the signs for Meningitis. We called Kaiser and the nurse agreed. Ellie and I showed up at Children's at about 10:00 on Sunday evening. They could tell right away that she did not have Meningitis (what a relief that was!) but they thought she might have Mononucleosis. They told us to give her some probiotics and take her home. Two days later they called to say that she had strep, again. That most likely means that she done not have Mono. The Ethan became ill again and is back on stronger drugs. Now Larr has a swollen throat and is off to the doctors to get it checked out.

We've spent so much time at the doctor's office that I feel like they might be able to build a new wing from so many copays and filled prescriptions.

I am even surrounded by sickies in every class.

Still, I am feeling mostly okay, except for my throat, it is feeling a little funky...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Welshon Family Photo Highlights 2009

Here's a book I've been working on for a few months. It was a lot of fun to do last year's photos and see how much my family has grown up. Shutterfly sent an amazing coupon that I could not pass up. It was 50% off the cost of a book. It was worth staying up late a few nights to meet that deadline. This baby is 87 pages long.

Click here to view this photo book larger

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Linen Table Runner - The Joy of Creation and Repurposing Found Treasures

I was recently at a thrift store when I spied some really lovely linen jumper. They were not my size, but I love the look at them and touch them. They reminded me of my Aunt Kathy who frequently wears linen with style.
There were so many to choose from. It seems that retailers had sent in donations. I gathered a whole pile of linen jumpers, most of them brand new. I picked out four of them to make into a table runner. I have a very light oatmeal color, two more that are darker shades that carry hints of gray and offer a bit more texture. I also picked up a blue jumper with a blue jacket with a sparse floral print. It all came to a grand total of $12. I was thrilled. Even if I was willing to pay the usual price for linen I could not have found such a selection in any of our local fabric stores. I bought one of the dresses more for the buttons than the linen, but came to love the linen, too. I

I wanted to be sure that the table runner would be fully functional and not fussy so I ignored the usual instructions for linen and washed them all together just as I would wash our regular table clothes. Much to my amazement, I found that they did not shrink or become unruly.

I spent an evening cutting them up so that they would be easy to handle. I spent a morning pressing and starching them, figuring out the coloring sequence and cutting them into strips. I spent the afternoon putting the top together. It was so nice to lift the image I had in my head and lay it down onto the quilt.It is one of the joys of creation for me. I would make some parts and then lay other pieces down to audition them.

Moxy had to give his say, too. If he did not like it, he would use his paw to swipe it onto the floor where his brother Toby would trot away with it. Luckily, this did not happen too much this round.

As the late afternoon light was streaming into my workroom I was finishing pressing and starching the finished top. I ironed on some WonderUnder and placed the batting for the middle. Some time soon I will do a bit of hand quilting and finish it up. I can't wait to see what I decide to do. I am considering whether it should be all straight lines to echo the Frank Lloyd Wright spirit of the design or if I should introduce a few partial circles into the open areas to offer a bit of energy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Busy Weekend - Part 1 South Village Open Space Park

It has been such a busy, fun weekend. We took a bit of time on Sunday morning to go for a walk, the family and the dog all included. We have such lovely places to choose from. We had wanted to go to Roxbrough Park, but the dog was not allow in the park due to a mountain lion den near the parking lot. That sent us off in search of an other park.

We stumble upon the south entrace of the South Village Open Space Park. We've hiked it from the north. This way was beautiful, too.

Some of the rock formations look like they were fashioned in a movie stage for a film.

The vistas can be breath-taking. There is simply no way to contain it on film in a way that I can share with you here.

The wildlife was undisturbed by our walk. We say deer, blue jays and many small birds, chickadees, perhaps.

It gave Ethan a chance to use his wonderful new binoculars. They had belonged to Uncle Ed who is a bird watcher. They are an old pair of Bausch and Lomb binoculars that are extremely powerful. I love this view of my husband, so happy when he is framing a shot.

Nature had plenty to show off. I was smitten with these little scrub bushes that have tiny acorns. I wanted to put a branch in water and have it live at my house for the fall, but the time between when we cut it of and when we got home was too long. The leaves are dried up. I still love the tiny acorns. I am thinking about making a lost wax cast of them so that I could make some from silver. Don't you think tiny silver acorns would be wonderful?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Oh My, So Many Tomatoes and Zucs! An Inspired Recipe

Our garden seems to have exploded in the last month.
If you take a walk in my messy garden (the weeds are trying to take over) you may feel like you have gone into a jungle- a wonderful fresh tomatoey smelling garden, filled with lots of light green textures, a carnival shapes and lots of fruit (veggies, really) each fighting for center stage.

This time I was lured in by the sweet, cheerful cherry tomatoes. Then the yellow pear tomatoes insisted that they join the party. And I could not leave out the Romas, so they joined in, too. Lest they become some sauce, they whispered in my ear that I needed to stroll over to the zucchini patch where those plants were taking over like so many cousins piling out of a station wagon. I had to pick a few of them to join us in the kitchen. On my way out the basil leaned over, blocking my way and grabbing hold of my nose with their wonderful scent. I think you might get the picture...

Once I was back in the kitchen I started looking for stuff that I might use to highlight my garden treasures. Out came the phyllo dough, the olive oil, the pesto, the feta and the Parmesan. With these items gathered, I knew I was onto something. After washing everything off, I began. I layered sheets of phyllo dough brushed with olive oil on top of each other about 10 times. I topped that with a thin compliment of pesto.

I sauteed the zucchini in olive oil on the stove and I placed them on the bed of prepared phyllo.

The zucs were joined by tomatoes artfully placed, basil interspersed next to Feta cheese. This was all topped with a sprinkling with Parmesan cheese and baked until the phyllo was crispy. It was a hit with the fam. I can't wait to make another one!

Here's the recipe:

Tomato, Zucchini and Cheese Tart

1/2 cup Olive Oil
10 sheets Phyllo Dough
1 med. Zucchini, thinly sliced and quarted
2 cups Tomatoes (Cherry, Roma, etc. small ones work best)
1 cup Feta *
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated *
1/3 cup Pesto *

(* = this amount is merely a suggestion. Go with how much or low little compliments your taste.)

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Saute the zucchini in 3 TBL. of olive oil in a sauce pan until it becomes slightly translucent (about 5 minutes).

Set this aside to cool while you lay down one or two layers of phyllo dough on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush on a think layer of olive oil. Top this with one or two more sheets of phyllo and repeat the process until you are out of phyllo dough.

Top this with basil, gently spreading it around as if it were pizza sauce. You may want to adjust the amount of pesto according to your taste. Consider being light with your touch so as to not overwhelm your tart with pesto.

Arrange the zucchini, tomatoes and basil to your liking.

Spread out the Feta as much as you like. Top it all with the Parmesan cheese. The tart can be refridgerated, if needed, at this point.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the tart is warm, about 15-20 minutes. Cut with a pizza wheel or knife. This can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

My How They Grow - Ethan Turns 17! (Party Recipes Bonus)

My boy, my first born, turned 17 on Friday. I simply don't feel old enough for this. But, alas, it is true.

I am proud of the man he is becoming. He has matured so much of late.

We celebrated with two parties this weekend. On Friday we had the family over. It was a nice dinner and a good visit. We had not seen Aunt Kathy for about 3 months. Mark and Lilia told stories about their trip to Maine for Lobster Season, my mom is always fun to have around and Don tells great stories.

I made most of the food the night before, just putting the finishing touches on Friday afternoon. (This is always a challenging party because it happens so early in the school year, when I am SWAMPED. Somehow I get it all done.) We had various appetizers that included some of the smoked fish we brought back from Wisconsin. I also made Beef Lettuce Wraps and a Grilled Corn & Basil Salad from a recipe I found in the most recent Cooking Light magazine. (I changed up the recipe just a bit so I posted it below.) We rounded it out with pecan pie at the request of the birthday boy.

On Sunday we had kids from the biking team over. They were a great group of boys. They had lots of fun playing video games, Rock Band, taking turns on the tree swing, doing a little Airsoft, throwing "throwing knives" at a stump in the alley, cards and hanging out. I made a variety of homemade pizza for the boys including white & basil pizza (using alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce), pepperoni pizza and margarita pizza (with olive oil, fresh basil, tomatoes from our garden, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese). They were a bit hit. We topped that meal off with chocolate chip cookies instead of cake.

On Monday I took a small gaggle of kids boating at Bear Creek Lake Park. I recalled that I enjoyed going on the paddle boats, but I had conveniently forgotten how hard it was. it was handy to have a bunch of bikers with me. I guided the boat while they peddled. I was pooped after 15 minutes of peddling, they went on for about an hour and a half.

We also did a bit of kayaking. The kids used a two person unit. I tried a longer, sleeker kayak, but managed to dump myself into the lake even before I was a few feet from the shore so I traded it in for a short, wide kayak. I had a lot of fun in that boat.

I'd like to have one or two of my own. Until then, I will be happy to come to the lake and take one for a spin, or rather, a paddle. It was a great way to round out a long holiday weekend.

Grilled Corn and Basil Salad
From: Cooking Light Magazine, Sept. 2010

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 1/4 cups)

* 8 ounces small yellow Finnish potatoes or small red potatoes (I boiled and then roasted these before adding them to the salad)
* 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears) (I used frozen
* 2 cups assorted tear-drop cherry tomatoes (pear-shaped), halved
* 1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
* 1/4 cup minced shallots (I didn't have these this time - they add crunch)
* 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used regular Balsamic Vinegar)
* 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 6 cups arugula, trimmed (I could not find this, but it was fine without it)
* 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
* 2 ounces goat cheese, sliced (I will use mozzarella next time)


1. Place potatoes in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 11 minutes or until tender. (I then tossed mine with olive oil and roasted them at 400 until they were lightly browned on the edges.) Drain and chill. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl.

2. Combine shallots and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour oil into shallot mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle over corn mixture; toss well. Add arugula; toss. Sprinkle with basil; top evenly with goat cheese.

Jeanne Kelley, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2010

*** This was a nice, easily salad that I constructed the day before. I tossed the salad with the veggies just before serving. It was a nice party salad that was popular.

Lettuce Wraps - Two Versions

Pouring/Dipping sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Chicken or Beef Stir-fry
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed to 1/2″ (or ground beef)
1 – 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, minced to the size of corn kernals
1 - 8 oz. can Bamboo Shoots, chopped finely
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
6 large leaves of iceberg lettuce

Stir-fry sauce
1 teaspoon hot water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Begin by making the pouring sauce. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, then add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon/lime juice and sesame oil. Mix well.

Combine 1 teaspoons hot water with Dijon mustard and garlic and set this aside in small bowl.

Combine oils and add to wok or large frying pan. Heat oil over high heat until it glistens, about one minute. Add chicken and saute until cooked through, then remove from the pan (I kept it warm in a casserole dish in the oven). Keep oil in the pan, keeping it hot over a low flame. (If you are making the beef version brown the beef with the onions and drain off any fat.)

Prep the stir fry sauce by mixing soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Add in the Dijon mix.

Take pan that you cooked the chicken or beef in and turn it up to medium-high heat. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, wait one minute, and then add garlic, onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and the stir-fry sauce you prepared earlier. Stir-fry everything until they have cooked, about four minutes. Add in the chicken/beef. Pout the stir fry sauce over the mix and stir it in.

Serve stir-fry with iceberg lettuce leaf wraps and the pouring sauce on the side.