Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ethan - Wolf Cub Scout

Here's my boy when he was a Wolf Cub Scout in 2001-2002.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ethan - Bobcat Cub Scout

Yesterday I continued to work on Ethan's Eagle Scout slide show. Here he is as a Bobcat.

Short Ribs in Italian Sauce
modified from a recipe found at: The Italian Dish Blog

This dish is even better made the day before. Making it the day before (or even just early in the morning) allows you to let the dish cool in the refrigerator and let the fat rise to the top, to be easily skimmed off. The original recipe had you cook these in the oven. I did mine in the slow cooker

3 to 3-1/2 pounds of short ribs
salt and pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 large carrot (about 3/4 cup diced)
1 medium rib of celery (about 1/2 cup diced)
1/2 medium onion (about 1/2 cup diced)
3 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste (I used a very small can for a doubled recipe)
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Sprinkle the short ribs with some salt and pepper. In a large heavy oven proof pot, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown the short ribs over medium high heat until a nice crust forms. Remove short ribs from the pot and drain any fat from the pot, but don't wipe the pot out. Lower the heat and add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pot along with the carrot, celery and onion and a nice big pinch of salt and saute gently for about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more. Raise the heat a little and add the tomato paste and cook it for about 3 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the beef broth, bay leaves and thyme and stir thoroughly.
Place all of this in a slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. You can also cook them on low for at least 8 hours. Add the 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, stir, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until the meat is very tender.

Remove the meat from the pot, using a knife and folk separate the meat from the fat and the bone. Shred the meat and st it aside. Strain the sauce in a colander so as to separate out the solid material from the sauce. Add the meat to the sauce and refrigerate, if time allows. This will allow you to remove the fat from the sauce with ease. Heat to serve. I offered it with grits instead of polenta.

Remove short ribs from pot and place in a large bowl and cover. Strain the sauce and pour the sauce into a small bowl. Place the bowls in the refrigerator. After the sauce is thoroughly chilled, skim off the layer of fat from the top. Put the ribs and the sauce into a large saucepan and warm gently on the stove.) Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve over polenta.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It is unseasonably warm right now, and the kids are loving it. They relish in the opportunity to get outside, strut around in their short and glide along on wings made of trucks and wheels, rather than feathers.
All is well, until the circling hawks, giddy and drunk with the warm sun, come crashing into each other and tumble down.

Thankfully, that spirit of joy is not broken. They do not draw war poses and attack each other for the folly of their ways, but rather, relish and trade stories of the adventure, complete with wounds to punctuate their commentaries.

{Photos by Ari, photo manipulation and cropping by Ellie.}

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ethan's Years as a Tiger Scout

This past weekend I began to pull together the photos and memorablia that I will need to create a celebration for Ethan achieving his Eagle Scout. It was fun to see the photos again. It had been a long time since I had pulled out those albums.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan With Love - A Day of Blogger Silence

It is nearly a week since the triple tragedy is Japan occured. I cannot even really comprehend what it must be like for the people and animals there. In an effort to help raise awareness of concrete ways to help those families, those animals, I am taking part in the "For Japan -With Love" campaign.
Over 100 bloggers will have a day of "silence" on March 18th in order to reflect on the enormity of that event. The second goal is to pair with "Shelterbox," an organization that sends green boxes of survival gear (a tent, food, stove, etc.) to families in need. You can follow the link above to find out how you can help. Thank you for your consideration.

This was created by the fine folks over at Utterly Engaged and Ever-Ours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Longboards and Photography - Ellie's Art

Ellie loves the warm, summer like weather and her "instagram" app on her IPhone. She says that it is the best app for photoediting on a phone. I like her style.

Ethan celebrated the approaching spring with the purchase of his own longboard.

Ellie celebrated by taking in the sun.

Ellie shows her style on her longboard - the one that started the trend around here.

Ethan's picking up his own style, too.

Kick and push and glide...
The kids were both inspired a bit by this video:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pipeline Emergency at AVS - Learning a Bit About Plumbing & a Recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing from a Birthday Party

On Friday, the sewer at Alpine Valley School broke. Thankfully, school was out for the weekend. However, next week is super busy one. The problem had to be fixed. Larr and Ethan, along with a plumber, worked all weekend to fix it.

One bright side from the experience is that Ethan got to learn how to use an mini-excavator. What boy wouldn't love that? Also, perhaps the parking in front of the school might become improved.

Some of the digging had to be done by hand. Luckily, Ethan is skilled at digging because he has loved digging since he was a tiny boy.

Ethan, the plumber, communicates the plan of action to his novice crew.

The trench was gross. They had to wade through thick sewage sludge to get the delicate digging done.

They had it operational by Sunday evening, but the repairs to the sprinkler system and landscaping will take a long time. Thankfully Ethan knows how to do most of that.

We ended the weekend with a casual family birthday party. We served a variety of simple appetizers,wedge salad, beef lettuce wraps and Haagen-Daz bars for dessert.

The blue cheese dressing was a recipe from the cooking class/demonstrations that I attend on Sunday mornings at the William Sonoma store in the Cherry Creek mall. It is a good recipe:

Blue Cheese Dressing
via William Somona cooking demonstration

4 oz. Blue Cheese (I used a medium Danish Goat Blue Cheese. If you like a stronger flavor you will find that Maytag or Roquefort are nice*)
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 TBL. Champagne Vinegar (I used Rice Wine vinegar instead)
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Pinch of Cayenne or Smoked Paprika

Crumb the blue cheese into the bowl of a food processor or a mixing bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Makes 2 cups. Keeps well for a few weeks.

* Look for a blue cheese with good, blue veins and a non-yellow cheese.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Spring Dinner Party- ATrip to Other Continents

We love having dinner with the Wiesner family - they are all so interesting. I wanted to plan a menu that pleases both the vegetarians in the family and those who are a bit adventurous. Thus, we have the following menu:

Garden Pizza
Blue Cheese Biscuits with Fig Jelly
Dried Peas
Crunchy Sugar Snap Peas

First Course:
Curried Cauliflower Soup with Greek Yogurt and Parmesan Cheese

Main Course:
Venison and Cheese Tart, English Style
Spanikopita Rolls

The Recipes:

Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries
From:Plum Pie blog

Adapted from TheRunawaySpoon via Food52

{Makes approximately 3 dozen}

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 ounces good quality blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fig preserves, about 3 tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the flour, butter, blue cheese black pepper, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough just comes together and starts to form a ball.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to pull the dough together, adding flour if sticky. Roll out to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick with a floured rolling pin. Cut rounds out of the dough with a floured 1- or 2-inch cutter and transfer the rounds to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Using the back of a round teaspoon measure or your knuckle, make an indention in the top of each dough round. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of fig preserves into each indention, using your finger to push the preserves as best as possible into the indentations.

Bake the savories for 12–14 minutes, until the preserves are bubbling and the pastry is light golden.

Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Garden Pizza
from: Creme de Colorado Cookbook by the Junior League of Denver

1 8oz. Crescent Roll Dough (canned in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.)
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened slightly
1/3 cup Sour Cream (or mayonnaise)
1 tea. Dill
1 pk. Ranch Dressing mix
21/2 cup Raw Veggies, finely chopped or shredded (I used broccoli and carrots. Red peppers, cauliflower, etc. are great, too!)
1/2 cup Green Onion, finely chopped (optional)

(I actually double this recipe when I make it for company.)

Open the crescent roll can and unroll the dough. Spread it out on a cookie sheet, pinching the seams together. I use a rectangular cookie sheet. The original recipe calls for a 12" round pizza pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then cool.

Blend the cream cheese, sour cream/mayonnaise, dill, ranch dressing mix and onion (if using)until smooth and well incorporated. Spread this mix onto the cooled crust.

Sprinkle the veggies on top of the cream cheese mixture. Lightly press in. Chill until you are going to serve it. Cut into squares.

Curried Cauliflower Soup
via the Sous Chef Series from Williams Somona
Chris Bradley, Gramercy Tavern, NYC (you can visit the link above to see a video of a chef making this wonderful soup!)

Yield: 6 Servings

* 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets (about 10 cups)
* 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
* ½ leek, white and light green parts only, diced (about ¾ cup)
* 2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
* ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
* ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
* ½ bunch cilantro, chopped (about 2 cups)
* ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
* ½ teaspoon mild curry powder
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 8 cups vegetable stock
* ¾ cup plain yogurt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. Reserve 1 cup of small cauliflower florets,onion, leeks and carrots for garnish.

2. In a large pot, warm 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the remaining onion, leek and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until soft, about 10 minutes longer.

3. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, combine the coriander and cumin seeds and toast until they are fragrant and slightly browned, about 2 minutes. In a square of cheesecloth, combine the toasted seeds and the cilantro and tie into a bundle, securing it with a piece of kitchen twine. Add the spice bundle, turmeric, curry powder and garlic to the vegetables in the pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add the vegetable stock, bring a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth bundle, then puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the puree to the pot and keep warm.

5. In a large skillet, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the reserved cauliflower, onion, leek and carrots and cook until the vegetables are just tender and lightly browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reserve.

6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil and lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Divide the hot soup among 6 deep bowls, garnish with the reserved vegetables and drizzle with the yogurt mixture. Serve immediately.


Beef (Venison) and Cheddar Puff Pastry Tart
From: Las Vegas Food Adventures

1 ½ lbs lean ground beef (I used Venison)
½ cup finely diced onion
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ cup beef broth (a boullion cube is fine here)
2 tsp cornstarch
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Brown the ground beef in a large non-stick skillet. Add the salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce soy sauce and sugar. Continue cooking over medium high heat stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until the beef browns nicely and becomes dry & crumbly.

Taste the meat; it should be nicely seasoned. Add the onions and continue cooking until they become translucent.

Mix the broth and cornstarch together. Add to the meat and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until the liquid thickens and lightly binds the meat together. Remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.

Thaw the puff pastry according to package instructions. Place one sheet on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pile the cooled meat mixture over the sheet leaving an inch of pastry on all sides. Top with the grated cheese.

Brush the edges with the beaten egg and gently lay the second sheet of pastry over the top. Gently press around the edges to seal. With the tines of a fork, go around the crust one more time to make a decorative edge.

Brush the inside of the top lightly with the beaten egg, leaving the edges plain to allow the pastry to rise during cooking. Make several shallow slits with the tip if a sharp knife on the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in a preheated (important) 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until puffed and rich golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into squares.

Serves 4-6


Spanakopita Rolls
From: What's Cookin', Chicago? blog

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach. thawed and squeezed dry
4 to 6 ounces domestic feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound phyllo, thawed
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), melted
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add white and green chopped onions; cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix spinach, feta, cottage cheese and egg in medium bowl. Add cooked onions and season with salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the remaining butter and oil and set aside until ready to use.

Remove one phyllo sheet. With the shortest end of the phyllo sheet nearest you, brush phyllo with butter and oil mixture; top with second sheet and brush again. Fold the buttered phyllo sheets in half, like a book and brush the top layer with butter and oil mixture.

Place a heaping 1-1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the bottom nearest you. Fold up the phyllo once and then fold over the right side and then the left side of the phyllo. Brush with butter and oil mixture and then continue rolling up like a burrito.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet and brush rolls with butter/oil mixture. Bake until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Ellie spent the afternoon making sweet cupcakes, each with its own special design. I love that she is like that!

Butter Cream Frosting
from:the Created By Diane Blog

1 cup butter

1 cup shortening

6 cups powdered sugar

2-4 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract. if you are making white frosting use clear vanilla.

Beat butter with mixer until pale and fluffy, add sugar and milk along with extract mix until smooth and creamy.

*If the weather is super hot, over 100 and I’m afraid the buttercream will be a mess, I sometimes use all shortening.

**If I want a very rich butter taste, I use all butter and no shortening.

*** for Chocolate Buttercream I use ½ to 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa in place of some powdered sugar.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Anderson Ranch Application Portfolio

"Sheep in the Stumayhew Church Yard" Acrylic paint & Gel image manipulation

Yesterday I sent off scholarship applications to Anderson Ranch up in Snowmass (near Aspen). They have a beautiful campus with studios, an art store, dormatories, a cafe, etc. They also have amazing classes. Ellie and I really hope we get to take part in workshops this summer.

My application required that I submit a portfolio of 10 pieces. It is a reasonable requests, but one that was a little intimidating to me. My work is all over the place. Clearly, I have no focus beyond color and texture. These are the pieces I submitted.

"Raven Collage" Watercolor paint, multi-media realia

"H.D. Thoreau" Part of my American Renaissance Bookplate series, carved drafting eraser

"Emily Dickinson" Part of my American Renaissance Bookplate series, carved drafting eraser

"The Art of Cyclocross Camp Poster" created using Adobe Illustrator CS3

Reupholstered chairs using thrifted wool sweaters that I felted.

Black Sheep Junior Cycling marketing material samples (letterhead and folded brochure)

"Blackbird Colorblock" created in Adobe Illustrator CS3 and Photoshop CS3

"Black River Relaxation" Enhanced digital photograph

"On the Beach Riding a Horse" digital photo with enhancements

Monday, March 07, 2011

My Girl Turns 14

On Sunday, March 6th,my sweet girl turned 14 and all she wanted to do was shop. Can you imagine?

I cannot imagine what our lives would be without here. She is artistic, funny, thoughtful and honest. She is also strong and strong-willed.

I love when we have a girls' night complete with Chinese take-out and a romantic comedy.

I love it when she tells me that it makes her happy when she hears my keys dangling from my purse as I walk into school to pick her up.

I love the silly face photographs that she takes with her friends.

I love how she is such a thoughtful and supportive friend.

I love to see her in action when she redecorates her room, again.

I love watching her ride her bike.

I love how she plops down on her daddy and sits in his lap as if she was a big kitty.

I love how she drapes herself over me, exclaiming, "I wuv you!"

I love how she tries to make her brother more fashionable.

We went to 3 different Target stores in search of the perfect swimming suit. The brand new Target that opened on her birthday did not have many suits from which to pick. The Target by our house did not have the correct size and the Target by school was the jack pot. We also went shopping for jeans - girl jeans - an activity not suggested for the weak of heart (or the easily bored.)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ellie's Fingerless Gloves - A Time Back in Time

(Photo effects by Ellie)
While I was recently picking out the yarn that I needed to make fingerless gloves for Ellie's dance teacher, Ellie decided she would like some, too. She surveyed the offerings and picked out a bright, nearly neon, yellow from Falk Dalegarn DK weight yarn. It was nice to have as an easy project to enjoy that did not require the use of a pattern.

Yarn: Neon Yellow Falk Dalegarn, DK weight 100% washable wool
Black, Mission Falls, Dk weight superwash Merino wool

Needles: 3dpn


(I made up patterns as I went. Below is the basic stitch structure.)

Cast on 40 stitches in black.

pm= place marker
sm= slip marker
m1= make 1 stitch by knitting into the front and the back of the next stitch

Cast on 40 stitches, divide evenly between 3 needles and join for knitting in the round.

Place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round.

Round 1-5: * k2,p2* repeat to the end of the round (40).

Knit in stockinette until the cuff is approx. 3.5" long.
(I used the Faire Isle two handed knitting technique to carry the two colors of yarn as I created the various patterns.)

For left mitten:
Clockwise from start: 8 sts for thumb, 20 sts for back of hand, 12 sts for palm.

For right mitten:
Clockwise from start: 8 sts for thumb,12 sts for palm, 20 sts for back of hand.
knit to end of round.

Round 35: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (42 sts)
Round 36: knit to end of round
Round 37: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (44 sts)
Round 38: knit to end of round
Round 39: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (46 sts)
Round 40: knit to end of round
Round 41: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (48 stst)
Round 42: knit to end of round
Round 43: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (50 sts)
Round 44: knit to end of round
Round 45: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (52 sts)
Round 46: knit to end of round
Round 47: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (54 sts)
Round 48: knit to end of round
Round 49: k5, pm, m1, k2, m1, pm, knit to end of round (56 sts)
Round 50-51: knit to end of round
Round 52: knit 5, place next 18 stitches onto a piece of waste yarn (these are the thumb stitches and will be worked at the end of the piece); cast on two stitches purl-wise; knit to
end of round.
Round 53-62: continue k1 to end of round.
Round 63-74: *k1 tbl, p1, repeat from * to end of round.
Bind off all stitches in pattern.

Transfer the 18 thumb stitches from the waste yarn to your needles and divide evenly.
Round 1: Join yarn and knit 18 stitches, pick up two stitches from the two stitches that you cast on after working the thumb gusset (20 sts).
Round 2: knit to end of round.
Round 3-7: *k1 tbl, p1, repeat from * to end of round
Bind of all stitches and weave in ends.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My Son - The Eagle Scout

This evening Ethan completed his last step in becoming and Eagle Scout. He was both excited and a little nervous. He passed with flying colors. We are so proud of him.

There were only two questions that took him a little by surprise, though he thought they were good ones.

The first one was, "If you had to remove one part of the Boy Scout Law, what part would it be?" Ethan took pause and thought about it for a while. Ultimately his answer was that he would take out "thrifty" as it is the only one that is self-interested. All of the other parts deal with involvement with others.

The other questions, albeit a bit more predictable, also required some thought. "How would you advice a young new scout?" Ethan replied, "I would tell him that there might come a time when it is hard to keep going, but you have to keep going. Later you will be glad you did." That is so true from his own experience. When he was around 13-14 he nearly lost interest. A bit later on his hooked back in and became jazzed about scouting again.

I look at these photos and see the journey he has traveled. He has gone from being the littlest guy in the troop (as you see in these photos from his troop trip to Washington) to the fine young man he is now.