Thursday, October 29, 2009

36 hours

And it's still snowing. Here's proof:

Two feet! and about another 6" today. Needless to say, the kids are home from school again. While snow like this is common place in the mountains of Colorado, it does tend to slow us down a bit here in the Denver area.

It's been nice being stuck at home and downshifting to slow gear for a couple days. Lest you think I've had so much time on my hands of late (judging pumpkin contests), it's been crazy busy. The past two weekends, while Dan has been building a new cover to go over a new deck, I've been painting. It's a sickness really. I can't leave well enough alone. And since moving to this house 14 months ago, it has been my mission to repaint the entire place. It was mostly white (some of it still, I haven't got there yet), and the kitchen/family room was a sage-y green. Now, the common areas of both rooms are Behr's Raffia Cream, the kitchen is accented in blue (Behr's Waterscape), and the fireplace wall in the family room is Gobi Dessert, with the nooks a deep Belgian Sweet chocolate. I will post pictures, promise.

In between painting, I spent last week with my nephew, Tommy, which I posted about here. The week went so fast and I miss him already! I also finished up an online writing course and am continuing with a weekly study on the Book of Matthew at our church.

All to say, I welcome a snow day or two, as it has given me some time to catch up with my work-from-home-job (oh, yeah, that!) and laundry (oh.yeah.that).

Have I mentioned how much I love my UPS man? Yesterday evening, as we were sitting down to a supper of vegetable beef soup and French bread, the doorbell rang and there, in the raging snow, was the UPS man. With a package. For me. From Amazon! I immediately knew what it was and had my son bring the box to the table, where I tore it open and squealed, "It's here!" This is what it was:

If you've been living under a rock in Blogland and don't know Ree Drummond at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman (or if you're not a blogger and just want to kill 19 hours reading a fantastic blog), check it out here! I am unabashedly one of her biggest fans, and I'm thrilled that this Monday, Ree is coming to the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, and I get to meet her in person! I'm dragging Kathy along with me. I'll post pictures, promise.
But, for now, I have some reading to do. And new recipes to try. Be back later;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Day

Yesterday, they said to be prepared for a storm. A foot of snow, maybe more.

It hardly seemed likely. After all, Halloween is Saturday.

I guess they weren't kidding.

At least we won't have to worry about wasps for a while.
Bike riding would be difficult in 14" of snow.
Deck building is on hold. At least until Saturday, when it will warm up again. That's Colorado for you.
The kids stayed home from school. We all found things to do.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jack'o'lanterns everywhere

Yesterday, I had the dubious honor of being the sole judge for Kathy's pumpkin carving contest. This is the 4th annual contest for her family. I was e-mailed the pictures and asked to choose my favorite.

Without further ado, here are the entries. And, just for fun, tell me -- which one is your favorite?

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, Monday

From Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook . . .
Would you like to linger on the simple things...then join me and many others in taking a little look into the day plans and thoughts of those who are focusing on simplicity...beauty of the 'everyday moments'.



FOR TODAY...October 19th from Peggy's Daybook

Outside my window... Just a few hours left for this day. I'm late in posting. It is dark and cool, a slight wind rustles the leaves and sends them dancing in the streets.

I am thinking... how different the world seems when you see it through the eyes of a five-year-old.

I am thankful for... the time I am spending with my five-year-old nephew, Tommy, this week. His mom and dad get a little vacation together, and I get to love on my nephew for four days.

I am remembering... how lovely it is to read bedtime stories and I can recite all of Goodnight Moon without having to read the words!

I am going... to enjoy a cup of tea and sleep well tonight.

I am reading...Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra King.

I am hearing...the hum of the refrigerator, classical music playing softly on my compter.

On my mind... not a lot.

Noticing that... More and more, I enjoy just being home. I resent the intrusions of errands, being a taxi driver, even having to go to the store. I just want to be home, puttering around my house, doing all the little mundane chores that keep it running. That's one of the many reasons I'm enjoying my time with Tommy this week. I follow his lead. And if that means sitting on the floor and playing with Mr. Potato Head and watching Star Wars, then all the better. (I know. Interesting combination.)

Pondering these words...
If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that had rolled under the radiator, striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day. ~ W. Beran Wolfe

From the kitchen... We're making good use of the meals I prepared last week. I'm still feeding my family supper, so it's very handy to have it all prepared and ready to throw into the oven.

Around the house... my house is a tad bit disheveled. I painted the kitchen and family room over the weekend. Still have a wall left to do and some touch up, which Dan is taking care of this week. I will post some pictures when I get the curtains up and everything is put back together.

One of my favorite things... cookies and milk for bedtime snack.

From my picture journal...new pictures are still in my camera!

Friday, October 16, 2009

TGIF

I haven't done a Friday's Fave Five in a while. It's always a good opportunity to think back on the week and feel grateful for the good things in life. Thanks, for hosting this, Susanne!

1. Yesterday was my brother's birthday. I'm thankful to have a big brother. He's always been there to forge ahead and check out the trail, telling me to "watch out for this rock," or, "you're fine, take this route." I'm sure it was a burden for him having such a klutz for a sister. Whether it was camping, hiking, skiing, life in general, I'm thankful for his guidance.

2. This book. Next week, our book club is doing a teleconference with the author. It will be fun to hear her insights to the story.

3. Tuesday afternoons and Bible Study. I'm one of a group of women that meet at our church on Tuesdays to study the book of Matthew. I'm loving the class, the fellowship, even the homework!

4. Modern Family. It is hysterically funny. We tape it and then Dan, Luke and I watch it and just roar.

5. Our freezer full of prepared meals. I spent last Saturday cooking up a storm and we have reaped the benefits. So far, the recipes are all delicious.

How was your week?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story

About a month ago, blogging friend and author Tristi Pinkston e-mailed and asked if I would be interested in being a part of a blog tour for a new book that's coming out. I've had the pleasure of doing a book review for Tristi before and was pleased that she asked again. When she told me the book was about the infamous Dred Scott trial, I was intrigued.

One of the places that the kids and I visited on our trip last summer was St. Louis. Luke and I toured the Old Court House where the first two parts of the Dred Scott case were heard in 1847 and 1850. It is a majestic landmark in downtown St. Louis, overlooking the Mississippi River and aligned with the Gateway Arch. Walking through the very building where one of the most significant trials in our nation's history took place was humbling.

I tried to imagine as best I could the experience of Dred Scott, an illiterate slave, who challenged first the Missouri courts and then the Supreme Court of the United States, to be declared a free man. My imagination could not do the story justice, but Mark Shurtleff's, Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story, certainly does just that. It is a riveting account of one man's courage and perseverance, and the struggles of a nation seeking its fundamental truths. Mr. Shurtleff, the Attorney General for the State of Utah has a gift for story telling and this was a page turner that I was reluctant to set down.

The book is 432 pages, the majority of the first 300 pages setting the stage for the trial. Mr. Shurtleff takes us on a fascinating journey of our nation's history. He engages the reader in accounts of the lives of the key players in Dred Scott's life: the illiterate slave, his devoted wife, Harriet; the noble Blow family who were once Scott's owners and later finance his path to freedom; Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, whose decision would return Dred Scott to the bonds of slavery, and his declaration that because African Americans were "of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race" at the time the Constitution was drafted, could not be considered citizens of the United States; and Abraham Lincoln who was so abhorred by the atrocities of slavery that he returned to political life so as to fight against it, and whose stance against the Scott verdict would eventually propel him to the office of President of the United States.

The story of Dred Scott is a heart wrenching account of a dark time in our nation's history. Mr. Shurtleff does an admirable task of engaging the reader in the telling of this moving story, leaving an indelible mark in our hearts and minds.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bon Appetit!

Today was the day I cooked two weeks worth of meals in about 5 hours. It is the most fun I've had in the kitchen in ages. First, the weather was perfect for a day of cooking. We woke up to this.

Emily's soccer game was canceled and we had nothing else planned for the day. We didn't get a lot of snow, but the roads were icy and travel was discouraged. So, I had the whole family to keep me company. I think they're all eager to try some of the food they've watched being prepared and that they smelled cooking all morning.

I thought the entire process went very smoothly. The first step is all the chopping and dicing. It was great fun to use my new kitchen knives and I felt like Julia Child, chopping all those onions. (Loved, loved that movie!)

And carrots and peppers and celery and green onion. . .

Occasionally someone would wander through and I coerced him into washing a few dishes.
(Some people just don't take my blog seriously!) This Fiesta Shrimp dish is going to be one of my favorites. Saucy noodles: salsa, three kinds of cheese, yogurt, and yummy spices. It goes in a freezer bag and when it's time to bake, put it in a 9x13 pan along with the shrimp. Mama mia!

I changed up the spaghetti sauce a bit, using my own recipe. I like to use fresh garlic in everything I cook. Well, almost everything. The book calls for a jar of minced garlic to use for all of the recipes, which would have saved me some time, because I ended up mincing garlic as I went along. And there was lots of it. Especially in this sauce. Mmmmmm, just smell it!

Speaking of noodles (weren't we?), my mother-in-law gave me this awesome pasta pot. If I'm not using it to make something for supper, my #2 son is using it to cook up some pasta for a snack. He's a real pasta head. It is a handy-dandy thing. (The pot, that is). Cook the noodles and the top has holes to drain them.

By 1:00 I had 10 one-gallon freezer bags in the freezer and several containers of spaghetti sauce and tortilla soup.

Don't mind that the bag is upside down. Or that there's a misspelling in the labeling. It's "Twelve Boy Curry," not "Tweve Boy Curry." I think I'm going to love this one, too.

The book says (and we must always follow the book, right?) that you should plan on going out to eat on Cooking Day. But, (throwing the book aside), we said to heck with that. #2 son boiled up some pasta in our handy-dandy pot and we heated up some spaghetti sauce.

(Insert picture here of family slurping spaghetti noodles up their chins).

Would I recommend cooking "in bulk?" Absolutely! Next time, I think I'll do it for a month's worth of meals. Such fun!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Grocery Game


You would think that after 25 years of marriage and 20 years of having kids, I would have grocery shopping down to a science. But, I don't.

I don't get it either.

I'm forever looking for new ways to plan my menus and organize my shopping. That's basically all there is to it, plan and shop. It sounds so simple. It probably is for most people.

In the past, I've tried a number of different methods. I've tried making menus for a week or two at a time, with a specific meal for each night, and then I shop from that list. It's a nice idea, except that our schedules get so crazy around here, especially during baseball and soccer season, that there are often nights that don't go according to my menu plan. So another method I've tried is to buy meat, poultry, and fish for so many meals, and then having a larder full of pastas, potatoes, canned veggies, fruit, for the side dishes. This way I would plan from one day to the next and each morning take out of the freezer what we would have for supper that night.

This week I've decided to try something new. I bought a new cookbook (the solution is always in a new cookbook, don't you agree?) called Once-a-Month-Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. I got it at Costco for $8.99. I'm easing into it by doing their Two-Week Entree Plan. It should actually get me through three weeks because we generally have pizza once a week and I have a few things left in the freezer that I'm working into the plan.

The whole idea is to plan it out and take it a step at a time. Do your grocery shopping one day and then do the cooking the next. Have your kitchen all cleaned up with just the items that you need for cooking out on the counters and the storage containers for freezing. And -- I love this -- plan to eat out on cooking day!

Today I did my grocery shopping, armed with my list that I photocopied from the book. I checked off the items that I already have in the pantry. I had to add things for side dishes. They have suggestions for side dishes in the book, but they don't include them in the shopping list.

There are two dishes that might not appeal to my picky eater. I'm making them anyway. I know the rest of the family will enjoy trying something new. Also, I wish I had thought to plan my cooking day for the day or two before garbage day. I realized as I was unpacking groceries that I'm going to have lots of chicken and meat wrappers to put in the trash tomorrow and they'll have to sit all week. Something to think of for next time.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October weekend

As promised, a few family photos for the family and friends who read my blog.
Emily's soccer tournament. . .


No more pictures, Mom!
Dan and Rick, surveying the roof at the duplex. . .
While I played with my camera. . .
Getting ready for homecoming. . .
No more pictures, Mom!
Joe (the chauffeur) and Luke. . .
It was a full, but fun, weekend. I missed getting pictures of Dan pouring concrete for the new back porch, Dan and I having a nice lunch with his mom and dad, and me doing the laundry. That about sizes up our weekend!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Honest Scrap


Dandy, from Spontaneous Clapping awarded me with the Honest Scrap award. I have to tell you 10 honest things about myself...

1. I don't know how to turn the big screen t.v. in our rec room off or on. There are too many remotes. The kids have to do it for me.
(Edited to add: Okay. Here's the real truth. I had to get my son out of bed one night to have him turn the t.v. off for me.)

2. Sometimes I'll make it a point to stay up and watch the news, so I can hear the weather report. And then I'll space out and not hear a word of it.

3. I like postage stamps. I used to collect them, but now I just like having an assortment on hand, using them for letters and cards.

4. I can sing every song from Mary Poppins.

5. I can spend a half hour browsing the magazine aisle at the grocery store. I've learned to skip over it, or go there before I go to the frozen food section.

6. I'd love to own a stationery store.

7. Math makes my stomach queasy. Really.

8. My dad insisted I take advanced algebra in high school and I still get dizzy thinking about it.

9. Favorite perfume: Chanel 19

10. If my husband would agree to it, I would paint every wall in our house yellow. But, he would like me to come up with a different color scheme for our bedroom and the family room. So they remain unpainted. I'm having a tough time with this one.

Whew, that was tough. My mind is so full of useless information, until it's time to spit some of it out. Then I draw a blank.

I'm not going to tag anyone in particular for this, but would love it if everyone who is reading it would jump in! Let me know if you do, and be sure to add the button to your post. I'd love to read yours!