Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Don't Stop Believing" - Ellie's Dance Competition

On Saturday we spent some time at the Denver Dancesport Jam. Her group performed their formation.
They are a cute group of girls.

And silly, too.

They can be intentionally silly.

It was at the Hyatt Regency, a really nice building with some great, artistic touches.

This is Ellie with Alia and Keira. Sometimes it is easy to mistake Alia for Ellie from the back.

Here's a little of what they were doing. They danced to "Don't Stop Believing," the Glee version.

They won first place.

The dancers are always interesting and entertaining. And they are beautiful. It is not unusual to see a dancer with her dress, the rhinestones in her hair and a fuzzy pair of slippers.

On Friday I came across this great recipe. Closet Cooking is a blog worth checking out. He made quinoa flatbread, topping it with the likes of hummus, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds and felafel. I picked up some hummas and cucumbers, intending to make these for dinner. My family did not want to wait so long, so I only got as far as the flatbread. My quinoa flatbread is much smoother than his. They are very tasty! I think they'd be great for my next party with vegetarian friends.

Quinoa Flatbread
via: Closet Cooking

1 cup quinoa, processed
1 cup whole wheat flour or brown rice flour
1 egg
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the processed quinoa, flour, egg, water, salt and pepper and let it soak for an hour.
Heat a greased pan over medium heat.
Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the center of the pan, cook for 5 minutes, flip and cook for another 5 minutes.


I also made a version of this lovely soup. The color is not much to consider, but it is very flavorful.

Curried Lentil Stew
via: Fine Cooking

1 large clove garlic
1 piece (1/3 inch long) peeled fresh ginger
1/2 small bulb fennel, cored and cut into large chunks, or 1 small rib celery, cut into large chunks
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large shallot, cut in half
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 tsp. curry powder
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 qt. homemade or lowsalt canned chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more as needed
(4-6 Lamb Chops, optional)

Pulse the garlic and ginger in a food processor until chopped. Add the fennel or celery, carrot, parsnip, and shallot and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until the curry powder is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lentils, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

(optional - I browned a few lamb chops in a saute pan with a bit of olive oil and a touch of salt. I put them in with the stew, letting it all simmer for a few hours to provide a slow cooking. I pulled them out, deboned and shredded them and added it back in.)

Transfer 1-1/2 cups of the soup to a blender or a food processor and purée until smooth. Stir the purée back into the soup along with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and adjust the consistency with water, if you like.
Serving Suggestions
Garnish with a dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt and chopped fresh mint or cilantro, or both.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 19; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): 43; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 320; Cholesterol (mg): 25; Fiber (g): 14;


Ellie enjoys a very basic granola, but many have too many pieces of dried fruit for her liking. I am working on trying to figure out a good, plain granola. I found the "Granola, Deconstructed" blog entry at Gourmande in the Kitchen very informational. I also liked what at Nourish Network concerning granola. I combined bits from both of them for the following recipe:


2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup Coconut Flakes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp Ginger, ground
1/4 tsp Clove, ground
6 TBL Maple Syrup
6 TBL Molasses
2 tablespoons Coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole natural almonds (or other nuts of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 300 F placing the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the 2 kinds of oats, rice crisp cereal, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to mix well.
In a medium bowl, combine the fruit puree, honey, light brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and mix until completely blended (it’s best to use your hands to get everything evenly coated.)
Spread the mixture out evenly between the two prepared baking sheets. Squeeze clusters of granola together with slightly damp hands, allowing for space between the clumps in order for air to circulate while baking.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets, flip over the granola with a large spatula and add the almonds and pumpkin seeds. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes (or more, depending on how thick the layer of granola) until completely dry and just golden brown.
Let cool on baking sheets, and store in an airtight container when completely cool. Add in the dried cranberries just before serving.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Distractions - Video Fun, Inspiration and The Like

Work is filling my days and causing stress this week. So, I have neglected my blog. I must go back to what needs to get done. So, I leave a few fun videos for inspiration:
Ikon Film, "Sound of Silence."

Night Bikes

This one might elicit an emotional response if you are a Harry Potter fan:

A bit of fun out and about:

For the book lovers:

The Sweetness of a Personal Gift:

How about this?

This is out of my realm of creation, but so cool. It makes me thinks about something differently. He certainly makes me think about second hand stores differently:

Absolute Inspiration:

Okay - is that enough? Perhaps, perhaps not... but I really should get back to work. I can be so distracted (and it all makes me want to do art. There an irony about finding artistic inspiration online and then not having the time to create anything yourself.)

What inspiration can you share?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Glass Blowing Class and Dinner with Friends (including the recipes)

Image borrowed from

Today I attended a glass blowing workshop at Agnes of Glass in Denver. It was a Christmas gift from Larr. I thought it was wonderful and hope that I may get to go another time. You could opt for a paperweight or a shot glass. I opted for the paperweight. Really, it did not matter to me which project I did. I just wanted to do it. When we went to upstate New York a few years ago we spent some time at the Corning Museum of Glass. When Uncle Marty suggested it I agreed to go out of politeness. I thought why would I want to see a museum of cookware? However, once I was there, I found that it was amazing! (If you find yourself in that area of Corning, NY, be sure to visit. I'd even plan two days! There is the museum and a workshop with lots of cool opportunities.) While there we made slumped glass jewelry and a few sandblast designs on glass bowls. After watching a glass blowing demonstration, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

Our small group of three had a wonderful time. Agnes has been a glass artist for over 25 years. She has studied in many wonderful places in the world, including Italy. Her methods are a twist on the Italian method. Her shop is spotlessly clean and well organized. It is clear that she put a lot of thought into the design so that the workflow would be smooth. Agnes clearly knows her stuff, but she does not overwhelm you with information. She speaks in an easy to follow, friendly manner. She was assisted by Cody, a young man who is apprenticing with her.
Image borrowed from

We began by learning a bit about the process and the names of the tools. Then we picked out colors for the "flowers" that would be in the center of our paperweights. Some options included shards of glass, others looked like little piles of glass dust. Agnes or Cody puts a bit of molten crystal on the end of a punty (special metal rod) which is then heated up in the special fire kiln called the glory hole. Next, I would slowly turn the glass around to make sure that the shape is fairly even. Next, it was sort of rolled out and centered. We did this a few times. We then pressed the end of the cylinder of molten glass into our pile of colored glass. It would pick up some. We'd heat it again and pick up more glass. From there we worked at the bench to poke the hot glass a few times. This would create what would become the stems of the "flowers" and it would also put a small glass bubble in the center. While on the bench, we worked the glass to a specific, round shape with a wooden shaping tool, gravity, heat and a lot of prompting from Agnes. Once it looked good we would take some clapper type tool to begin to encourage the glass to form a ball at the end. During this part of the process it would be rewarmed many times. Before we cut it off we took them outside to see what they would look like. It was interesting to see that the colors would start out looking black when they were super hot. As they cooled slightly the colors would begin to bloom. Cody helped each of us work the end so that it was a nice ball. We would then tap the punty rod with the handle end of a butter knife. This would cause the glass ball paperweight to separate. Cody would heat it some more so that we would be able to put our initial in the bottom by pressing a metal letter stamp into the hot glass for just a quick second. Cody would then use special gloves to place it gently into a special kiln that would slowly lower the temperature of the glass from about 2,200 degrees until they are cool enough to be removed in a few days. I am very excited to go back on Tuesday and take my paperweight home.

Satisfied with my efforts and my results, I headed home to pick up Ethan and get a few things from the grocery store. At his suggestion, we invited the Cures over for a casual dinner and had a great evening with them. Our recipe choices all ended up being great. I made homemade hot dog buns,roasted fingerling potatoes, chocolate chip cookies and roasted broccoli. Ethan made guacamole. The Cures brought over marinaded beef. Ethan cut up some veggies which were used to make beef kabobs. He used some of the usual stuff, like red onion and young peppers. He was adventurous by including kumquats which roasted nicely. It is really nice to be able to have friends who can come over for a nice evening of discussion.


Homemade Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns
(using a Bread Maker)
via: Craving Comfort Food blog

1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

(hamburger buns, if you want hot dog buns. cut 'em to that shape)
Place all ingredients in pan of bread machine, according to manufacturer's directions.
Select dough setting.
When cycle is complete, turn out onto floured surface.
Cut dough in half and roll each half out to a 1" thick circle.
Cut each half into six 3 1/2" rounds with inverted glass as a cutter.
Place on greased baking sheet far apart and brush with melted butter.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Bake at 350° for 9 minutes.
Note: Oven temperatures vary so check after 9 minutes to see if done.


The Very Best Roasted Broccoli You've Ever Had
via: Amateur Gourment
(Inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa)

4-5 pounds Broccoli, washed, dried and cut into florets
4-5 Garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
5 TBL. Olive Oil
1 1/2 tea. Sea Salt
1/2 tea. Pepper, gorund

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Line your pan with foil. Toss the broccoli, garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Roast in the oven until it is kind of caramelize(some of the ends will be a small bit brown and crispy), about 20-25 minutes.

(We all thought this was wonderful!)


Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

via: The Very Best Baking

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Techno Gremlins - Not My Best Day

It started out just like any other day, but quickly took a turn in the road. It began simply enough with a desire to check my email only to find that my computer was corrupt. It stared me down with an ugly dark blue screen, void of any twinkle of life. On the way to school I found that my speedometer was no longer registering my speed. That was easy enough to deal with by simply pacing myself to the others around me. In the parking lot at school I came to notice that I left some of my water at home and that I was wearing not only my dirty apron, but also my slippers. (Thankfully I had another pair of shoes with me in the car.) Things are looking up, I thought. But oh no, come period 3, my school computer, which housed my lessons and digital material for the day, crashed, too. This was announced by the many error messages boxes proclaiming a doomed hard drive. I had worried how the afternoon might go as I was scheduled to run a webinar that begins a new Web 2.0 class that I started today. Thankfully, my little netbook computer was a champ and saved the day.

After a day like that I decided that I needed the stress relief that a little knitting and movie would provide. So I pulled out my mittens, the ones I started the night I watched a movie with my boy. Laying in bed that night I realized that I had made an error and that I needed to frog it. So, I pulled it out, started the movie and started the knitting again. I found "Marily Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School" while browsing Netflix. It was just the ticket I needed for such a failure of the day.

I don't happen to recall the movie when it was released in 2006, but I did enjoy it. It features an unlikely hero and a wonderful cast of actors.

On a brighter note, Ethan has his first welding class at the local community college this evening. he is excited. I hope that it goes well. I imagine that it is both exciting and scary to step outside of the small world of our school into the bigger community.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rock Climbing in Golden and a Triple Birthday Party

This weekend most of my family went rock climbing over at North Table Mountain and had a wonderful time. Each of them remarked about how much fun they had.

On Sunday we had a triple birthday celebration at my Aunt Kathy's house. She hosted a wonderful part. We had a rib roast, steamed broccoli and carrots, crusty sour dough bread, mashed potatoes and salad. For dessert we enjoyed a French Silk pie with vanilla ice cream. She also made a Strawberry sauce that had a bit of Grand Marnier which Ethan really liked.
Aunt Kathy was kind enough to share recipes for the favorites from the meal.

Clam Dip

6.5 oz. Clams (drained)
3 oz. Cream Cheese
2 TBL Mayonnaise
2tea. Onion, chopped
2 tea. Parsley (or cilantro), chopped
1 tea. Worchestershire
Dash of Hot Pepper Sauce

Combine all ingredients and chill to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers.

Yield 1 cup (double recipe for a group)

Cold Raspberry or Strawberry Sauce
from: The New York Times More 60 Minute Gourmet Meals

1 pint Fresh or Frozen Raspberries or Strawberries (or 10 oz. Frozen)
1/2 Juice of a Lemon (or 3/4 Juice of a Lime)
1/4 - 1/2 cup Sugar
2 TBL. Framboise or Grand Marnier

If using fresh fruit, rinse and pat dry.
Put the fruit in a food processor with the lemon/lime juice. Add the sugar (use 1/2 cup sugar if you are using frozen fruit or 1/4 cup for fresh fruit) and blend thoroughly. Add the Frambiose or Grand Marnier.

Yields 1 1/3 cups.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Quiet Beauty Around Us

Today I am inspired by the quiet beauty around me, whether that be in my own home, or in some remote place. The day is nice enough for me to open the windows and let a breeze into the house. I will make cookies and bread as I work.
The red Amarillas that was supposed to bloom at Christmas, but shared its glory this week. This way we noticed and enjoyed it more, rather than it simply being part of the riot of color we have during the holiday season. Next year I think I will buy some of these preplanted bulbs near Christmas so that I can have this joy repeated.

I also love my snowflake light for many reasons - the clean lines in the design, the glow it radiates, and the memory of our trip to Wisconsin a few years ago. I am tempted to buy a few of the other designs from Kronlume Scandinavian Lighting.

I love the plants in the windows of my kitchen. They, too, are linked to a memory, that of my mother-in-law, Eleanor, who is no longer with us.

I am inspired by this girl, Klara Harden , and her Icelandic journey. I also love the music.

MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

TheWind from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

I've spent part of my weekend putting together an Indie Music playlist. I have gathered a number of bands and artists to consider:
*Fleet Foxes
* Mumford & Sons
* DeVotchka
* A Hawk and a Hacksaw
* Leonard Cohen
* The Shins
* Bon Iver
* Band of Horses
* Grizzley Bear
* My Morning Jacket
* Cold Play
* Death Cab for Cutie
* Modest Mouse
* Iron and Wine
* Elliott Smith
* Cat Power
* Regina Spektor
* Bright Eyes
* Rufus Wainwright
* Sufjan Stevens
* Jose Gonzales
* The Weepies
* Remy Zero
* Ray LaMontagne
* Joanna Newsom
* laura Marling
* The Wailin' Jennys
* The Unthanks
* The Civil Wars
*Alexi Murdoch
* Cary Brothers

What other music might you add to my list?

A Helmet Liner for Kathy and More Jane Austen - Oh, Emma!

Coach Kathy is such a wonderful and generous person. I tried to give back to her whenever I can. She love hot, neon pink and I thought she needed a wool helmet liner to go with her neon pink helmet.

Alas, I could not find neon pink 100% superwash merino wool. I got as close as I could with a nice pink and a reasonable purple; they were not what I had hoped for, but it was as close as I could get.
I could have gone with acrylic, but that would not have been as warm as wool. She received it gladly and says that she will wear it during her bid at the Cyclocross World Championship this Sunday in Kentucky.

Here's how I made it:

2 balls of Cascade superwash Merino DK Wool
Size 1 double pointed needles
Size 1 16" circular needles
Size 3 double pointed needles
Size 3 16" circular needles

Cast on 96 of the main color.
Rows 1 Knit the row without joining. Straighten yarn on the needles to be sure will not be twisted once joined
Row 2 *K2 P2* to end. Place a marker.
Rows 3-10 *K2P2* (continue this until the ribbing is how you like it. Mine is about 1'.)

Change to size 3 circular needles. K1, add 1 stitch, K49, add 1 stitch (100 stitches.
Continue stockinette stitch until the hat measures 7.5", creating patterns that please you.
K 1 row, adding markers every 10 stitches.

Begin Crown Reductions =
Row 1 *K2t, K9*
Row 2 *K2t,K8*
Row 3 *K2t,K7*
Row 4 knit stockinette
Row 5 *K2t,K6*
Row 6 *K2t,k5*
Row 4 knit stockinette
Continue until you are down to 9-11 stitches, draw threads through all live stitches. Thread the yarn through the hole to the underside of the hat. Pull tight and weave in ends. Finished length of hat should be 8"-8.5".
I think I am nearly finished with my Jane Austen inspired movie fest. I left off with "Emma" which I think I like best. I watched the version with Gwenth Paltrow. She is a wonderful Emma. I am add "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" into the mix, too, though it is not strictly a Jane Austen film.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wintery Scenes with Glowing Sunrises and an Awesome Shrimp and Grits Recipe

Some mornings I am lucky enough to raise at just the right moment that allows me to sit in my warm, cozy bed and enjoy the glorious sunrise. For much of the year I notice and enjoy it while I am on my way to work. But there is something special about being able to sit quietly and take in the beauty of it all.

Or how about this one?
This tree is off on the other side of the house. In the late spring I am cheered by the chorus of birds who seem to have their morning coffee and chats in my branches.

In trying to mix things up a bit, this is what we had for dinner. It was a hit!

Creole Spice Shrimp and Cheese Grits

via: Katria Runs for Food blog


2 Tablespoons of butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup milk
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup water, and additional may be needed to thin grits.
1 cup quick cooking grits
1/4 cup EACH of cheddar, parmesan, gruyere cheeses.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons creole or cajun seasoning
1-1/5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 64 shrimp)
8 ounces dry white wine*
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Garnishes: julienned prosciutto, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped fresh chives
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon thyme; sauté 1 minute. Add milk and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; whisk in grits. Reduce heat to lowest setting; cook 10 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Add cheeses and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. If they set too firmly when ready to serve with shrimp, add water or milk to thin and reconstitute.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add garlic, celery, bell pepper, onions, thyme, cajun seasoning; sauté 30 seconds. Add shrimp, and cook 7 minutes. Remove shrimp and veggies from skillet.
Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to low; whisk in remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir in lemon juice, tomato, and parsley. Cook 3-5 minutes. Return shrimp and veggies to pan. Stir to mix with butter tomato sauce. Serve over grits. Garnish, if desired.
* If you would rather not use the wine, use broth or lemon juice.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Birthday Cake and Phantom

Photo by Glenn Ross for the Denver Post December 2011

It was a fine weekend for relaxing. Saturday morning Ethan and Larr went rock climbing. Ellie return from a sleep over at a friend's house and I mostly hung out. I cleaned a little, watched a "Sense and Sensiblity" (I am on a Jane Austen movie streak) and tried to decide on my next knitting project. I am pretty sure it will be a pair of mittens.

Saturday evening we all met back up to go to the Weisner home where we shared fine company, a wonderful meal and a birthday cake made for me.

I was touched that they would do that for me.

Most of the folks then headed off in the fluffy snow to take in a University of Denver hockey game. Wendy, Caroline and I stayed home. Caroline and Wendy began decorating the felt heart cut outs from the kit I put together for them. I balled four skeins of year and we chatted a lot.

I have come to realize that I appreciate a quiet, thoughtful knitting project every January; one where I can nestle into a chair or couch and simply enjoy the process and the magic of witnessing the emergence of the pattern. I had considered a few different patterns including:

I gave "Deep in the Forest"

mittens some very serious consideration. If I had the proper yarn on hand, I would have gone that direction.

Hiroshage Mittens.

I like Kanagawa, too. I actually purchased that pattern and will knit them in more social situations where I can't focus on a complicated chart.

In the end I have settled on Tourbillion mittens done in shades of purple.

On Sunday my mother and aunt were to go to the Boulder Dinner Theater to celebrate my mother's birthday, but my aunt was sick so I went in her place. I always enjoy time along with my mother and I love the theater, so it was a great afternoon. They put on a small scale version of "Phantom of the Opera" that was very clever. The costumes and acting were great. Even though I knew what as comig, I cried at the end of the story. My mother thought that was a little funny.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Tiny Putz Houses - A Job Done From Love and Memory

One of my favorite things at my mother's house during the Christmas season is her little Putz house display. For the past few years I've been looking at patterns and Putz houses that others have made. This year I decided to take it on and make a few of my own. I originally thought I would give them to her, but now I am not so sure. They were such a labor of love, taking much more time than expected, of course, but seemed to come together very suddenly at the end. It was very gratifying! Besides, I am not even certain that they are the same scale as her set.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Saying Good Bye to the Holidays, Seeing a Few Good Movies and Visiting with Friends

Today I am back to work. The anticipation of break being over is always hard to take, but once I am back, I slip right back into what I do - teach.

The first two days of the year have been wonderful. After a great birthday on New Year's Eve, I had a relaxing day. The house was mostly clean and there was plenty of food that could be heated up for meals sitting in the fridge.

Ellie and Ariana showed up at our house rather early as the eletricty in Golden had gone out and the girls were cold. I made them a nice breakfast which provided them with the fuel to go ice skating at the lake in Evergreen. I was happy to see that she was able to get on the ice again.

Ethan slept in and spent the day doing his own thing. Larr read and I worked on finishing the Putz buildings. I am quite happy with how they came out, though they were much more work than I had anticipated (as most projects are.) I learned a lot in the process which I will write about on another day. I also cut out a new skirt, did some knitting and watched "Mansfield Park" on my netbook computer while sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree. Sipping tea, knitting, watching a movie and having my family about - it was almost magical.

The next day the kids were off to school, but I was not. I spent much of the day with my mother, by myself - a rare treat. We went to Sam's Club and to see "Hugo." It was a really wonderful film. I will have to own it once it is available on DVD. I may even go to see it in the movie theater again. I'm certain that my boy would love it, too.

We hurridyly picked up Ellie as we had friends coming over. Iris, Maxl, Pam and Stephen were joining us for dinner. The kids would hang out and play video games. We ladies ate at a leisurly pace and visited. It too, was wonderful. The boys were sad to go, but we promised that they could all get together again soon.

I resisted going to bed, even though Larr, who is still feeling ill, had already headed up. The time to take the tree down has come. I always hate that - it is like saying goodbye to a friend that I will not see again. I know the cats will miss it, too. However, it is also a nice feeling to have the house free of the clutter of holiday decorations, no matter how festive they are. It is time to move out of the holiday season and embrace the possilities of the new year that is ahead of us.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Low Key, Relaxing Birthday (Plus Recipe for Ginger Butter and Sweet Potato Pancakes)

Yesterday, New Year's Eve, was my birthday. He was very thoughtful about making my birthday great. We began at Snooze, a very hip breakfast joint on 2263 Larimer Street in downtown Denver. Larr and Shawn ate there a while ago. Larr had this gem tucked away for a special occasion.

The food was wonderful. We started out with coffee and Chia. They serve Third Street Chia, which is great stuff. I thought it was interesting that it was served in a pint glass with a cozy.
Ellie was too much of a sleepy head to join us. We had to roust Ethan out of bed to join us, but we had his permission. It is a very popular place and so we aimed to be there at 7:00 a.m. when the doors opened.

Ellie would have appreciated the decor. It was very fun.

It was difficult to decide what to have. Here's what we ordered:

Snooze Spuds Deluxe A heaping portion of our hash browns, covered with melted cheddar & jack cheese, scallions plus two veggies , meats, or combo of your choice

Corned Beef Hash Snooze’s signature shredded hash mixed with locally made corned beef, caramelized poblanos and onions. Topped with two eggs your style & toast or tortillas.

Breakfast Pot Pie Snooze’s homemade rosemary sausage gravy smothers a flaky puff pastry, topped with an egg your style (we’d say sunny side up!). You’ve reached breakfast bliss, complete with hash browns.

They also gave me a special birthday sweet potato pancake topped with caramel sauce, chopped pecans and ginger butter. It sounds weird, but is really very wonderful. (I'd like to figure out how to make them at home.)

That evening we watched a few movies on Netflix while the kids were out doing their thing with their friends. Ellie went to the 16th Street Mall New Year's Eve party and fireworks display with Ariana. Ethan hung out with friends and took photos of the fireworks display.

"Balzac and the Little Seamstress" (with subtitles)

"Amadeus" (This is one of my favorite films. I did a cutting from the script for dramatic interp. in forensics in high school.)

Ginger Butter
via Epicurious

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons finely chopped drained stem ginger in syrup,* syrup reserved

*Stem ginger in syrup is available in Asian markets and some supermarkets.
print a shopping list for this recipeview wine pairings


Beat butter and chopped ginger in small bowl to blend. Beat in 2 to 3 teaspoonfuls ginger syrup to sweeten to taste. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Read More

Sweet Potato Pancakes


3/4 pound sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan of boiling water, and cook until tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and immediately immerse in cold water to loosen skins. Drain, remove skins, chop, and mash.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, milk and butter in a separate medium bowl. Blend sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture to form a batter.
Preheat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter mixture onto the prepared griddle by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook until golden brown, turning once with a spatula when the surface begins to bubble.