Monday, February 28, 2011

Nearly an Eagle & Serious Sandbox Activity

It is an exciting time in Ethan's life. This, being on the brink of adulthood - is exciting. Some days it almost feels like parts of his life are like a movie.

On Sunday night Frank, his first Scoutmaster, stopped by the house to pick up Ethan's Eagle project notebook and have him sign the final paperwork. There will be a board of review, the final one, on Tuesday evening. Should all go well, he will officially be an Eagle by Thursday. There were times, especially when he was about 13 or 14 that I thought he would not hang in there long enough to get to this point. He pulled out all of his patches, his awards, his old uniforms. I think that is when the significance of all this began to hit him. We began talk of what his celebration will look like and what would occur. I'm proud of him. I just hope his final review goes as we expect.

Ethan has been chasing other dreams as well. He has ALWAYS loved digging and mining. For over a week now he has been leading an exploration of the geology at school.

A team of kids have excavated a small section of the sanbox in hopes of finding gold. The school sits on what was once a major river bed so getting to the water table was not very hard.

Ethan called in Dave, a professional mining engineer, to give him advice. Dave and Ethan spent a good part of the afternoon in consultation and ended up purchasing a pump to remove the water. It will be reserved in some fashion so that it may be used in the sluice box.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ELLIE IS COOL. also,, i love my mommy:)

Ellie and I had a nice day together.

I did a little art. I went back to a multimedia painting that I started last year and added white acrylic ink to the sheep. I am still not sure if it is done yet.

I took Ellie to Appel's Salon to get a hair feather. She's wanted one for a while. It made her very happy. It is actually made up of five altered and dyed rooster feathers that are attached to real human hair. It is added to Ellie's hair as an extension with a small dab of glue. Tina, the hairdresser, says they should last for around three months.

Ellie spent part of the afternoon documenting kitty cuteness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Little Bit of Black and Yellow - A Small Project for My Girl

It's kind of funny. When the kids were born we were very careful to not put gender stereotypes on our kids. I asked people to refrain from buying tiny sports uniforms and I loved dressing them in colors other than blue or pink. However, they continue to prove to me that they are their own people. Take Wednesday night as an example. I took Ellie to dance class where she worked on her Waltz, her Rhythm and her form. Larr took Ethan to learn how to use a plasma cutter. Both were happy as can be.

I've spent much of my time where I drive and then wait for a kid working on knitting projects. I got about 5" into the last project that I posted about but found that the gauge was too small so I undid it all. In the interim I began a pair of fingerless gloves for Ellie. She picked out Neon Yellow and Black.

She started out suggesting regular stripes, but I thought that might look too much like part of a Bee costume, so I mixed it up a bit. Ellie likes the result and asked that the second glove coordinate, not match. They were a hit at dance class. Several of the other girls tried them on. I think I'd find willing recipients if I decide that I want to knit more of them. Ellie likes them. They remind me of the '80's. I keep imaging big hair, punk rock music (such as "I'll Melt With You" by the Modern English) and leg warmers. Hmm, I wonder if those will be on my horizon some time soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Day Spent at the Zoo

We recently won a family membership to the Denver Zoo as part of what we bid on at an auction for AVS. It had been many years since I had been and Larr could not remember his last visit, so we spent the day there on Sunday. We went with the family that provided the pass for the auction.

Artic Fox


I love the elephants. During the summer the zoo staff used to have the elephants paint pictures that would then be sold in the zoo gift shop. It was fun to see. I wonder if they are still doing that. I wonder if the elephant enjoyed it.

The hyenas were very cool. I left that exhibit with the music from "Lion King" in my head.

The small mongoose that is looking up appeared to be very popular. Several of the other mongooses wanted to snuggle with her. Was it desire for companionship or warmth, or both?

At the end of the day the mountain goat was in a talkative mood. He would bleat and wait for you to respond, then he would return with his own comment. We went on like that for a while.

These monkeys were very cute, almost cartoon like.

One of these monkeys really seemed to like Ethan.

The tigers were in a playful mood. One of them hid behind a rock and wiggled the way our cat, Toby, does when he wants to ambush his brother. None of the other tigers came close enough to play so he eventually went over the gang and pounced on one there.

It was a great way to send an entire day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I Can Do with Some String and Tooth Pick (okay, not quite tooth picks, but very close...)

As most people who do some form of art know, the joy is largely in the creation. One thing I love to do is knit, but there are only so many knitted things my family of four realistically wants. That is why it was joy when I found out that Ellie's dance instructor, Marodi, wished that she had a nice pair of fingerless gloves to keep herself warm. That set me on a quest and this is what I became inspired by:

"Transition Gloves" by ShiBui. I liked them much better than just about everything else that I looked at on Ravelry.

Marodi said that she would love them done in gray and black. So, the hunt was on, and it was much harder than I expected. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were many a lovely skein of soft sock yarn in those colors, but most of them were too expensive. My favorites were $16.95 and $18.95 per skein. I just could not go there. Then I found what I thought was fine. The colors were perfect and they were oh-so-soft Alpaca yarn. I happily purchased them only to discover at home that in my glee I had overlooked the fact that they were lace yarns, not sock yarns. I remedied this by winding it so that the ply was doubled. Then I had to figure out the right needle size to get the right gage. In the end I purchased needles in size "0" and "1.5".

I did the ribbing with the "0" needles and felt like I was knitting with toothpicks. The saleswoman cautioned me that they are easy to break - no kidding. Interestingly, I found that I knit more loosely using them for fear of breakage. That might be a good thing. I switched over to the size "1.5" for the regular part of the knitting. That felt better, for now. I will have to return to the land of toothpick knitting once I am on row 36.

I am happy with how they are coming out so far. They are lovely and soft.

On an entirely different note, Ethan opened my eyes to some pretty interesting videos that he found through Here's one of the most interesting ones. The videos are about Theo Jansen and his "creatures" or "animals" that he is creating. He hopes they will "live" in herds on the beach one day, adapting to their environment. It's worth your time to watch them - Enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Winter Ball - "An Asian Evening" at the Cherry Hills Country Club

On Sunday evening Ellie and Christy attended the "Asian Evening" Winter Cotillion Ball at the Cherry Hills Country Club.

The girls looked forward to this event, but wanted to dress a bit more casually than they had for the last ball. Ellie had a hard time picking out what to wear. She wanted a new dress, but she waited too late since the winter dances in schools in this area all seemed to have happened on Saturday night. It came down to this dress or a brown and cream one. I thought she was lovely in either one. She engaged in a bit of teenager attitude by mixing it up with neon orange nail polish and her huge aray of bracelets in lui of the white gloves that were suggested.

He father was supposed to take part in the last half hour of the dance, but he had to stay home as he was quite ill and feverish.

They played a few fun games using chop sticks and they did a lot of dancing, of course.

I had originally planned to have a special evening with my boy, but that had to shift since I had to take Ellie to the dance. The first hour and a half of the dance was reserved for the kids so Ethan and I hung out at the Whole Foods Market. We chatted with the produce guy and tasted lots of stuff. We wandered through the tea and coffee isles, then over to the bakery. We also had a lovely chat with the man working the cheese counter. Ethan loves cheese so he opted for a few fun cheeses instead of something sweet. It was a tough choice, but the Tillamook Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar and the Apple Smoked Gouda were both lovely.

I got to hear stories of the evening before when Ethan and Tom joined Morgan and a group of her friends at the Ralston Valley High School winter dance. It sounds like it was a bit like a rave without the drugs. The school had a light show and kids sported lots of glow sticks. They shifted the party over to Denny's and continued the fun once they could get a table big enough for the 20 of them.

At 17.5, Ethan has a fairly private life. I told him that I miss going places and doing stuff with him. He feels the same way. It seems that he shares more of his dad's interests these days. It is a little hard from time to time, but I am also glad to see that they have such a warm and wonderful bond.

We returned to the country club where I waited outside of the dance hall until it was time for me to arrive.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Raven Collage - Creating the Parts

I've had a real love for birds for a long time. In the last few years it has become focused on blackbirds, ravens, etc. I have also been very inspired by Geninne, an artist in Mexico.

Her work has prompted me to pull out the watercolors and make a collage with images of ravens.

I started out by looking up images of ravens online, both by looking at google images and in That led to a bit of careful sketching.

Next, I painted in a background. At that point I thought I was just making a painting, otherwise I would not have bothered with it. However, it was fun to do. :)

I did a raven, a nest and some text parts. I also typed out "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe in a nice "Jane Austen" font. I also found a few images of raven eggs with labels that had been photographed in a musuem. The hand typed labels were clearly done on an early model typewriter, just right for my project.

I then had color copies on card stock made. I wanted to try some experiments and did not want to risk messing up my originals.

Along the way I also found Laura Zindel Designs. I absolutely love her art. I'd love to have a few pieces, especially the bird and/or feather pieces.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

American Cycling 2010 Awards Ceremony & Moroccan Meatball Recipe

On Saturday we went to the American Cycling Association 2010 Awards Ceremony. Ellie was up to receive a couple of awards. This was the first year in many years that Ethan was not on the stage, too. He has moved onto other activities.

Ellie was happy to see her friends, some of whom she does not get to see much outside of biking related events. She was awarded second place in the Junior Women 13-14 Colorado Cross Cup Best All Around Racer 2010 award.

Ellie received third place the Junior Women 13-14 Best All Around Rider 2010 (Road Season) and second in the Junior Women 13-14 Colorado Cross Cup 2010 awards.

Our team, Black Sheep Junior Cycling, also received the following Best All Around Team 2010 awards: first place for Junior Men 8-9, 13-14, Junior Women 13-14 and 15-16 and third in Junior Men 15-16. They also were awarded the following Colorado Cross Cup 2010 Best All Around Team awards for Junior Women 17-18 1st place, Junior Women 15-16 2nd and 13-14, as well as Junior Men 13-14, 3rd place.

Ethan was out with his boss, Bob, ice fishing. They had a great time, but it seems that no one on the lake caught a single fish. Perhaps it was the noise of the motorized hole digger.

Sunday's cooking demonstration at the local William-Sonoma store was "Meatball Mania." They made several recipes, but I thought the following was the best of the session:

Moroccan Style Meatballs

from: William-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre

(If doubling this recipe, use only 1 1/2 times the amount of salt, not double the amount.)

* 2 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 red onion, very finely chopped
* 1 lb. ground lamb
* 3 large garlic cloves, crushed through a press
* 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
leaves, finely chopped
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves,
finely chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
* 2 Tbs. fine dried bread crumbs
* 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more,
to taste
* Lemon wedges for squeezing and garnish
* About 42 cocktail picks (optional)

Lightly oil a shallow-rimmed baking sheet.

In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Add the lamb, garlic, eggs, parsley, chopped mint, bread crumbs, cumin, cinnamon, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl with the onion. Combine the ingredients thoroughly with your hands (the only way to evenly distribute the ingredients). Fry a small pinch of the mixture, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut, rolling them very lightly in the palms of your hands. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Preheat a broiler. Place the meatballs about 4 inches from the heat source and broil, turning once with tongs, until brown and crispy on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove the baking sheet from the broiler and transfer the meatballs to a platter.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the meatballs and arrange the remaining lemon wedges and mint sprigs on the platter. Using a cocktail pick, skewer each meatball. Serve immediately. Makes about 42 warm bites.

Note: The meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before cooking. Remove them from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking. If desired, cook and cool the meatballs, refrigerate them for up to 4 hours, and then reheat in a 350°F oven until heated through, 10 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d'Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dinning Room Chair Redux -Upcycling Wool Sweaters

I find my inspiration in some pretty funny places. Sometimes that inspiring thought has to sit in my head and gather momentum before I act on it. Such was the case of the super cool chairs at A Knitted Peace, a very hip knitting shop in Littleton, Colorado. I was there about two years ago when I spied a wonderful chair. For some reason I assumed that it was made of thrift story recycled wool sweaters that had been felted in the washing machine. I examined them closely and decided that I had to make at least one of those, too. The hunt was on for blue wool sweaters in a variety of shades. How could that be? Well, more difficult that I would have expected. It took me two years to get around to the project partly because I found out that 1)there is a short window of time when you can get wool sweaters at the thrift store, 2)finding blue wool sweaters is much more difficult than I expected.
It turns out that the most popular color for sweaters at my local thrift stores is brown, or gold, if you are in the woman's section.Nonetheless, I preserved and finally gathered a nice pile of sweaters which I felted in the washing machine and cut apart. As I was involved in the treasure hunt for the perfect sweaters for this task, I came to realize (duh!) that the chairs were most likely recovered with hand knit and felted bits. Once I realized this I dithered over whether I should knit and felt some rectangles, but decided to stay with my original plan. It felt good to know that I had a back up plan.

I spent Friday evening cutting the sweater bits into usable strips.

Moxy was happy to give his approval to the project and act as a supervisor. After all, he had an invested interest in making sure the chair turned out nicely.

That took a few hours, much longer than I would have expected.

Then the sewing took place on Saturday. I found that it is best to pair the extra stretchy knits with the more solidly felted pieces so that they keep their shape better. I also remeasured and re-trimmed them, just as I would with a regular quilt piecing project. That went pretty well. I used a zig zag stitch for extra measure. The actual construction and reupholstering went pretty quickly. I was able to design, sew and apply enough to get all three chairs done in one day.

Larr found the chairs at a garage sale a few years ago.They are a wonderful find because they go so well with our other Scandinavian dinning room chairs.

As you can see, they were very ugly. The cat had gotten into a pattern of sharpening his claws on two of the chairs. This made me feel embarrassed when we had guests over.

Here are two of the three chairs. I had intended to photograph all three, but must have become distracted and forgotten the third one.

I am happy with how they came out. My idea is that I can simply replace parts if the cat continues to use the chair as a scratching post. I have plenty of wool left over. I am even considering redoing a chair in the living room. Perhaps I will be more adventurous with that design.