Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stymied and Frustrated

Today I am off kilter; I hate feeling this way.

At the beginning of break I plan out my week in my head. I know that much of the time off will be spent getting ready for, then enjoying, then cleaning up from Thanksgiving. I stack up ideas of what I want to do with my unplanned time after Thanksgiving is done (I do the same thing with Christmas). I create plans, design art projects and wax hopefully about the house being clean, having food already made in the fridge and creative energy to focus. However, as is often the case, it seems that I have put too much pressure on myself and I find myself at a lose; in the end I have little to show for how I actually spent my time.

The beginning of the day was hopeful and full of sunshine. We took Remmie to the dog park in Golden where there were upwards of 7 dogs to play with, chase and have fun with. He was delighted as he ran himself into a frazzle. It is a bit like watching a preschooler at a party. For a while he has his all into the game of fetch or chase. Then, as he grows tired, he stops short of running up the hill and waits for the pack of fur to come whizzing back in his direction where he joins up again. Then he gets to the point where he is so tired that he is just standing in the center, glazed over. That is how I know when we need to go home. He does not resist leaving and then flops gratefully into the back seat. I am pretty sure he was asleep even before we made it to the main street. It was a gloriously sunny fall morning. I am so thankful that we have a fall this year. Often we go from summer to winter, ping ponging back and forth between those seasons for a while before winter takes a firm grip on the wheel.

I had plans for projects. They involved leather, paper, xacto knives and glitter. I had Larr plunk the picnic table in the sunny part of the back yard where the glittering went well. Next, I created a paper mock up of a project that I will make using leather, though I quickly found out that I needed a lot more specific information than I had, so that project came to a screeching halt. I tried to farriet out another idea that will be made from leather, but that too had problems and was put to the side, partly completed.

And so I then found myself at the computer inside on a warm and sunny day, the last one of November, finding that the paper crafting idea had many more complications than I had expected, too.

Lunch had to be made and served, the stuff on the kitchen counter seemed to have multiplied and the towels from the bathroom were still missing. The tiny hand towels that are usually coraled cheerfully had soldiered on to take the place of their missing comrades and so the bathroom looked out of place,disheveled, too.

I was feeling stymied and frustrated so I decided to take myself on an outing. I tried stopping by a place where I need to get special items for a very important project, but the man who owns it was still not available.(I prefer to buy locally, but I may end up with an Amazon purchase instead.) I headed to the holiday market at the Foothills Art Center in Golden for a bit of inspiration and refocusing. I visited with a jewelry maker. I admire some of the projects and took in the wreaths that are up for auction. I left, still feeling frustrated.

I decided to look for a am/fm clock radio that can also play CDs for my mother whose radio is so old that it only plays am. She loves to listen to Christmas music, so I set myself out to remedy that problem. Who knew such a thing could not be found easily. Alas, I will have to seek that out on the web.

I retreated home, tried to pull myself together, failed, made dinner and then listened as my son recounted his day. I snuggled with the dog and read my novel for a while. And I am as yet still frustrated. Time is running out. Perhaps tomorrow will be a more fruitful day. We all return to school/work on Monday so tomorrow will include cooking, cleaning, folding laundry and maybe a bit of crafting. We'll have to see...

Thursday, November 28, 2013


We had a wonderful and large Thanksgiving party at our house today.
Don and Ethan carved one of the turkeys. I made a smoked turkey. Aaron and Ethan made a deep fried one using a big fryer in the backyard that Aaron brought over.
Ellie did a wonderful job of making a pie and decorating the table. She always does such a nice job and she is so creative. I'm sure you'll agree.
We had lots of wonderful food to eat.
And then came the desserts:
After a relaxed dinner we enjoyed a fire in the back yard. Some people also enjoyed a cigar or two.
And well, Chuck enjoyed a nap. I suspect there was a lot of that going around in other homes.
A few of the men Ethan works with spent the day alone so he asked me to make plates of food for them to enjoy. I love that my boy is thoughtful like that. I am so thankful for my family and wonderful friends.

I hope you have a great holiday, too.

A Creative Break

Natalie and the kids spent the day with me on Tuesday. we did a bit of visiting and a lot of crafting.

Natalie made a colorful paper chain. She plans to wrap the kids in the paper chain by a nice spot on Clear Creek for their Christmas cards. Now all that she needs is a bit of snow.
Camille decorated some mugs that she will fill and give to her friends.
Ben was inspired by some altered books that he saw at the Foothills Art Center Holiday Market. I am glad that the kids find being at my house to be open and free, a good place to create.

I made paper flowers that I will use on a pajaki that I am going to make for Ellie.

I am thankful to have their family in town.

Here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekend Recap - Crafting Gifts, A New Dog Park and Two Good Recipes (+ 3 Videos)

I am thankful that I am finally on fall break - I have 9 days off in a row, and my how I need it. I try to sleep in, but I can't seem to stay asleep pasted 6:50 a.m., even though I do not have to be up that early. I get up, let the dog out and go about starting my day. This weekend I worked on a few Christmas related crafts, did a bit of cooking, hung out with the family and took the dog to a new dog park.
Saturday morning was crisp and cold. We found found that we had the entire dog park to ourselves for most of our visit. The dog park is in Golden, near an Open Space park. Walking from the car to the dog park, Remmie discovered a chicken foot and part of its leg, feathers still attached. (The park is in a rural area so I imagine that a fox or coyote helped itself to a fresh chicken dinner the night before.) At first he was not at all sure what to do, but then he decided to taste it. That seemed to set some gears working, tapping into ancient dog knowledge. He chewed on it for a while and then paraded around a bit, oh so proud of his find. Then we entered the dog park, finding it up occupied, he set the leg down and began exploring. Part way through the visit another family began walking towards the entrance. At that same moment a deer found herself between those folks with a puggle (pug & beagle mix), the gate, a fence, Remmie and I. After some quick consideration, the deer hopped over the fence into the baseball diamond in one quick leap, bounded across the diamond and back out. The puggle was barking madly; Remmie, perplexed for a second time in a short while, was all excited, not sure what to do, ran back and forth along the fence. Larr played with Remmie a bit and then we headed back home.

Once home, I dropped off Larr and Remmie, picked up my mother and headed for Boulder to pick up supplies to make a few pajakis for home. We had a nice time, leisurely enjoying wonderful, fancy hot chocolate at Peace Love and Chocolate, before spending some time at Two Hands Paperie.

Later at home I commenced a bit of crafting. I can't really show much since it the gifting season approaches. Here are some glimpses of what I am working on:

I also did a bit of cooking:

Split Pea, Ham, Carrot & Barely Soup.


Better Than Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo
via: Cooking Classy

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp garlic powder (you can add an additional 1/4 tsp for more garlic flavor)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste Shop
2 oz freshly, finely grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup)
2 oz freshly, finely grated Romano Cheese (1/2 cup), plus more for serving
2 oz freshly, finely grated Mozzarella Cheese (1/2 cup)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
1 lb Fettuccine Pasta, uncooked

Cook pasta according to directions listed on package, scoop out and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water
into a small bowl before draining.

In a large saucepan combine cream and milk. Scoop out and reserve 1/4 cup cream mixture into a
small mixing bowl. Scoop out and reserve another 1/4 cup cream mixture into a separate small
mixing bowl. Bring cream mixture in saucepan to a simmer over medium heat (a gentle bubble just
below boiling). Reduce heat to medium low. Add 3 egg yolks to one of the small mixing bowls
containing 1/4 cup cream mixture and stir egg yolks until very well blended, about 30 seconds. Add
2 tsp cornstarch to separate small mixing bowl containing remaining 1/4 cup cream mixture, whisk
mixture until well blended and smooth. Add 1/4 cup hot cream mixture from saucepan to egg yolk
mixture and blend, then add 1/4 cup hot cream mixture to cornstarch mixture and blend. Pour both
mixtures into hot cream mixture in saucepan. Cook mixture over medium low heat for 3 - 4 minutes,
stirring constantly until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat
to low and sprinkle in garlic powder, onion powder, salt and finely grated cheeses. Cook, stirring
constantly until cheese has melted. Thin sauce, if desired with pasta water that was reserved (I only
add 2 Tbsp pasta water, just add to your desired consistency).

Pour Alfredo sauce over drained pasta, toss to evenly coat. Plate and garnish with additional
grated Romano Cheese, optional chopped fresh parsley and sprinkle with fresh cracked black
pepper. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken
via: Handle the Heat
YIELD: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Sesame seeds
Chopped scallions, for garnish

Season both sides of the chicken with lightly with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.(I skipped the seasoning and cubed the chicken.)

In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, onion, tomato sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or on high 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Remove the chicken from slow cooker, leaving the sauce. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/3 cup of water and pour into the slow cooker. Add in the sesame oil. Stir to combine with the sauce. Replace the lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened. Shred the chicken into bite size pieces, then return to the pot and toss with the sauce before serving. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallions and serve over rice or noodles.


Here are a few videos that we have been enjoying:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Making a Pajaki at Two Hands Paperie, My Favorite Paper Store + Minnestrone Soup, an awesome flavorful recipe

Last night I found my way to Two Hands Paperie in Boulder. It is a paper store that is awesome and inspiring. It makes me want to rise up and make wonderful, artistic creations. We were making pajakis that will be decorations at the Firefly Holiday Market in Boulder. It will benefit the Open Arts.

Here is the one I was part of creating:
(This was my group.)

There were many in the store from which we could draw inspiration:

It was also fun to watch the other groups create their pajakis. Even though we had the same instructions and materials, we made such different pajakis:
You can see why I love the store so much:
I hope you find this inspirational, too.
Happy Early Holidays!
Minestrone Soup with Pasta, Kale and Beans

8-10 slices of bacon, ½-inch-diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced carrots (4 carrots, or baby carrots)
2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini (1 small)
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian green beans, drained
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
4 - 6 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 - 2 tsp dried thyme
1 - 2 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1 - 2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups cooked whole wheat small pasta, such as elbow (about 1 cup dry)
1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (Ellie asked for more Kidney beans next time I make this soup)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium low, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and place in between two paper towels set atop a dinner plate. Blot lightly and set aside. Drain most of the excess fat from the Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil,onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté over medium heat, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes,zucchini, green beans and 6 cups chicken stock . Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Add in the bay leaves, pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, thyme and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Once soup has simmered and the vegetables are soft, discard the bay leaf. Add the beans, cooked pasta, and reserved bacon. Add the kale in batches as it fits in the pot, stirring so that it cooks down. Once kale has lightly wilted. The soup should be fairly thick, but add additional chicken stock as needed. Serve hot drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Serve with Parmesan Garlic toast.