Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitting Inspiration, Nantucket Cranberry Pie and Wild Rice Soup

I've been taking a Fair Isle Two-Way Color knitting class. It has opened a whole new world of opportunities for me.

At the races this past weekend I found myself taking special notice of the intersting hat that people were sporting. A few of them let me snap some photos.

I've also been making a few recipes for friends who are having surgical procedures on Wednesday.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie (inspired by the recipe found on The Pioneer Woman)
2 TBL Butter
12 oz. (about 21/2 cups) Fresh Cranberries
1 cup Pecans (or Walnuts)Chopped
2/3 cups Sugar
1 cup Flour (Whole Wheat Flour works nicely)
2/3 cup Sugar
1 stick Butter, melted
2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
1 Tablespoon Sugar For Sprinkling

Preparation Instructions

*Adapted from a recipe by Laurie Colwin*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter a cake pan or pie pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar. Mix this around to combine nicely.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine. It will be very thick.

Place the batter over the top of the cranberry mixture. Spread gently if necessary.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Five minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with 1 tablespoon sugar for a little extra crunch.


Wild Rice Soup (Vegetarian)
Inspired by the recipe by GirlFriday blog, by Alexis McKinnis

2-3 cups Wild Rice, cooked in broth
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 bunch celery, cleaned and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 TBL Flour
6 cups Broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2-3 TBL Basil
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
3 bay leaves (optional)
1-2 cups Milk or Cream
salt to taste

Saute onion and celery in butter or olive oil over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour and stir it around until it is absorbed.

Add wild rice, broth, thyme, sage, marjoram and bay leaves (if using). Bring soup to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in cream. Salt, ladle, serve.

* You could make this a gluten-free recipe easily by omitting the flour. The soup would be less thick, but still every bit as tasty.

Baby, It's Cold (and Foggy) Outside - Just Right for Cyclocross

We had all kinds of things on-tap for this weekend. Most of them were outside. Saturday Ellie raced and Ethan had round #2 of his Eagle project. The boys were pouring the concrete pylons for the pergola.

We had check the weather forecast on Friday. It said that the high for Saturday would be in the mid 50's, so we dressed accordingly. However, as we drove south we found it getting colder and colder. By the time we stood in line to register we were chilled to the bone. Since I lost my winter coat, All I had was Larr's wind jacket. I also recently cleaned out the car and only found an extra pair of socks. By the time Ellie raced fog had rolled over the course, making it so that the riders could not see very far ahead of themselves. However, just as quickly as it rolled in, it rolled back out. (It reminded me of a giant fog-cloud kitty ambling through the park.)Ellie's form and speed are continuing to improve and I am relieve that the string of illness seems to be behind us now.

The podium for the Alpha Cyclocross race was a lot of fun. They gave each person a bottle of sparkling cider which they shook up and sprayed, just the like pros who win the various stages at the big races. It added a lot of fun to the race.

That afternoon we went coat shopping and picked up some of the stuff to make lip balm.

Sunday we were back at the races, this time at the Union Reservoir in Longmont. This time we were more prepared for the cold. The fog blew in again. Parts of the course ran next to the water and the promoter worried that a confused, tired or cold kid would loose control and go into the lake, but that did not happen. Most of it burned off by the time Ellie's group was midway through their race.

Part of the course was on an old BMX track. All of the kids thought that was a blast!

You can see that the promoter took care to make it a cool race. The t-shirts, mugs, glasses and website are all very cool.

After the race, both kids went to a birthday party at a place filled with jumpy castles and other fun, tiring things. They were pooped by the time we got home. We had a quiet evening with Don. I started to make soup for a family who have two members who will have operations on Wednesday. I will post those recipes soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Boyhood Dream Comes True

When Ethan was a tiny boy he loved his "Hard Hat Harry" videos. He could watch heavy equipment all day. Yesterday he started his Eagle project (YEAH!)It started out with Ethan learning how to drive a Bobcat from the rental location to his school.

He was practically giddy when he got to drive that thing. He kept telling me how driving that Bobcat was a dream come true. It was fun to see!

He has been working on this idea and plan for over a year. I have been so impressed at all of the people, both those who know him and those who are new to meeting him, who have stepped up to help make this dream, this plan a reality. In addition to his dad and scoutmaster, many people in the community have offered assistance. The man at the wood forest products company where he will buy his lumber has met with him several times to make sure everything is just as it needs to be. He hooked Ethan up with a man who builds decks and pergolas for a living. He met with Ethan on many Sunday evenings to help ensure that the structure would be sound, safe and last a very long time. (He says that most of the plans published in magazine would not pass code.)That has been a really learning curve.

Ethan is going to build a 30' x 15' pergola on the west side of the school.

These are the drawing he made on Sketch UP. I think they are super cool, completely to scale, all the way down to the size of the bolts.

Ted came down from Bailey (about an hour away, I think) to run Bobcat to drill out the holes. Here Ethan and Ted discuss the location of the holes near the building. I am thankful that he was willing to spend three hours on a Saturday to help out our boy.

Then the boy scouts had to clean up the holes. Long ago this was a river bed so there were tons of rocks to be pulled out an hauled away. This week the holes will get inspected and hopefully they will pour the concrete footers next Saturday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November Cotillion

Sunday evening Ellie and Christy had cotillion. This time it was the five course meal at the Valley Country Club in Centennial. One of the regular chaperones was not available to help, so I got to fill in. I was excited to get a chance to go.

Even though it was a cold evening, the girls were dressed for cuteness. Ellie loves the fact that the dress she was wearing has pockets.

As the kids progressed through their meal their learned both American and Continental dinning etiquette. Mrs. Porter, the instructor had many clever methods for helping the kids remember what to do. For example, BMW stands for "Bread Meal Water" which correlates to the boundaries of each person's place setting. Your bread plate is on the left outermost side, your meal/dinner plate is in the middle and your water glass is on the outermost right hand side.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Wishlisting with Ellie

Last night I went "Wishlisting" with Ellie. It is a window shopping of sorts where I get a very clear idea of what the person I am with wants for Christmas. This will help me make informed choices. Besides, it was a lot of fun. We were out for about three hours, but only made it through a few stores. Ellie is such a girl. Here's what she has on her wishlist.

This is what she REALLY wants. She says if she only got this and nothing else from anyone else, or if she could get funds to help her buy it, that would make her a very happy girl. She wants to be able to text and take photos. And oh yeah, let's not forget that the music part is great, too.

She also fell in love with a leather jacket at TJMaxx. It is funny because I would not have given it a second look. It just goes to show ya'...

A disco ball has been on her list for a few years, but a real one is very expensive. She thinks this one from Target could be fun. I think she just wants to put together a party atmosphere in her room.

Next, we went to Bath and Body Works. She LOVES this kind of stuff, but is very particular about which scents she would use. Ellie says that when she has her own house she will have perfectly clean bathrooms, white linens in her bedroom and the whole house will smell good. She also feels better when she smells good. This is a little funny since we really don't do scents at our house. Larr is usually allergic to such things.

Ellie also loves sparkly stuff. She is absolutely smitten with the Liplicious stuff. It is sparkly peppermint flavored lip gloss.

That carried over into the desire for the "Secret Wonderland" shimmer body mist. We tried all of the various scents of lotion and this was the overall favorite, though she likes Warm Vanilla Sugar, too.

She has also wanted something to make her room smell nice. Originally she wanted the scentbug, but the WallFlower plug in was a nice option, too. They are on a super sale at over half off. She did not want to wait for Christmas so she bought herself a starter set with the Frosted Cranberry oil.

She'd like to have different scents for different moods. Once again, the "Warm Vanilla Sugar" made the list, along with "Caramel Vanilla" which was simply too much sweetness for me. She'd go for any of the "Caribbean" scents such as "Caribbean Island" or "Caribbean Salsa." She was also tempted by the more Holiday scents like "Hollywreath" and "Evergreens."

Most of that seems pretty managable. She loves clothes and shoes, of course, but would prefer gift cards so that she can pick them out herself. That is half of the fun of it, afterall.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Bit of Biking

I've been remiss on writing about our biking adventures of late. Ellie has been racing pretty regularly. Nearly two every weekend now that we seem done (hopefully) with the run of strep in this house. (Three times a charm, I hope. It is crazy to think that Ellie and Larr have each had it three times in the last two months!)
Each race she is improving. She still have her technical groove so the technical courses are good for her. The breathing and cardo are what is slowly kicking back in.
This photo is from the Boulder Cup, a big national level race that took place outside of the Flatirons Mall. She took 4th place. On Saturday she took third and got a swag bag of loot, her favorite thing from it being a Polar Bottle that is hot pink!

It was a touch course that zig-zagged up and down the steep grassy bank that leaves off from the parking lot and down to the little stream. Nearly everyone crashed. Here Maxl, the ever happy and smiling boy that he is, carrens into the trail tape and takes out a chunk. I love that he laughs about it, instead of getting stressed out.

We race each weekend with Stephen, too. He and Ellie have been racing together for years. He is very serious when he rides, but a ton of fun, too.

Ethan was going to do this race, too, but we missed his start time. The kids had a bit of time to run around together after their race. They had fun, as usual.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Fish Hat for Ellie

I like to knit, a lot. During our trip to Wisconsin Ellie spied a fun book of knitting patterns called Hat Head. I decided to buy it and have the kids mark which designs they liked. I was surprised at what they picked out. Ellie wanted the "fish Hat" with a slight variation on the colors.

I cast on 96 stitches onto a size 1 needle and knit enough to make a curled edge, adding in one purled row to make sure the curling did not continue. Changing to size 4 needles, I then knit a few more rows and then added in the fish pattern from the book.

From that point on I deviated a bit from the instructions.My stripes were three rows wide (instead of two) and I used more colors. She wanted it extra long so it could be slouchy, as is the fashion.I think I made it 9" from the rolled rim to the point where I started the decreases. I finished it up with a lovely, dense pom pom that made using a pom pom maker tool.

If I make this pattern again I will modify the pattern to allow for at least one or two stitches between the pattern repeats. I had not noticed how it ran together until it was too late. Going back and looking at the photo in the book, I see he added those stitches to set them apart, but did not make those notes in the book. Ellie loves the hat and did not seem to care how the fish were so close to each other.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween Festivities

We had an absolute blast last week. But, quite frankly, I also happy to move into the relative quiet and calm that the beginning of November offers. It is a nice respite to the frenzied quality of Halloween.

On Friday we had the AVS Halloween Party. Ellie dressed as a baby. Ethan had just returned from a camping trip in the mountains so he was not in costume.

I decided to be Goth Girl, though I sure seemed to have a punk twinge, too. I thought it was pretty fun to be something that is so different from who I actually am. The funny thing is that it completely freaked out Larr and Ellie. Larr didn't even want to look my way.

It was kind of fun to wear my daugher's shoes. They were more comfortable than I had expected them to be.

The AVS party was hosted by a group of 12 year old girls. They made an awesome punch. It was 1 part Cranraspberry juuice to two parts ginger ale and a who lot of pomigrante seeds broken apart. They even made a fun hand and some "eyeballs" ice cubes.

Saturday night we went to Wendy's and Linn's house for their costume party. I had to come up with a new costume. I welcomed the chance to wear the fun witch's hat.

I thought Ethan's miner outfit was pretty cool. It was all the real deal. Larr was an administrator, the scariest costume at the party.

Wendy's daughter, Carmen, did a great job of decorating everything.

Sunday, after the races, the kids got together to go trick or treating. Ellie did not want to be a baby (probably because I wanted her to wear shoes and she did not want to.)so we had to come up with something else. They had a lot of fun, as always. Steven thought it was funny to wear his mask and stare at people when we were driving. Ethan was Eminem, a white rapper. Ariana was going to be a raper, too. However, we were already late by the time we were on the way to her house, so she switched to a skier so that we would not have to do her hair.