Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas snow at last

We finally got the snow that we'd been hoping for for Christmas.  It started this morning and within minutes the ground was covered.  It is still snowing, big white flakes that swirl around and dance to the ground. 

There's something so peaceful about sitting near a Christmas tree with a hot cup of tea and a good book, seeing the snow fall outside the window.  I'm reading The Help, probably the last person in America to do so.  I'd like to just sit and read it in one sitting, but my desk is stacked high with piles of stuff that I mentally tagged, "deal with after December 25th." 

So, my day has been one of work at the desk for a bit, do some laundry, read a few chapters.  Repeat. Not a bad day at all!

Last night, our friends Kathy and Steve came over with their two boys, Tyler and Scotty.  I made chicken tortilla soup in the crock pot, some hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls for those who prefer less spicy cuisine, and we had ice cream sundaes for dessert.  Very simple, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.  We spent the evening playing Wii games.  Everyone got in on the action, and I learned that I am no better at bowling on a t.v. screen than I was in an actual bowling alley.  Except, I never knocked over an entire bowl of potato chips when I was on a league.  Dan's comment:  "I hope you have the wrist strap on that controller."

Oddly, it seems more like Christmas now than it did in the crazy, busy week prior.  Maybe it's the snow.  Or maybe it's that I've been reminded that December 25th is really the beginning and not the end of the yuletide.  It's the end of Advent, and the waiting period.  But now the wait is over and the season of light has begun!  I guess the snow isn't really that late after all, but right on time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bear Tagging

This video is both hilarious and heartwarming.  Take a few minutes and check it out.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

The festivities are winding down and yet another Christmas will become part of our memory book.  I love every part of the yule season -- the baking the cards the gifts the wrapping the shopping the caroling the wearing of Christmas socks and best of all, being with family.  We had a wonderful Christmas. We had Christmas Eve at our house with my side of the family.  We really changed it up this year, and had a Mexican feast with tamales, chile rellenos, empanadas, and a tres leche cake for dessert.
   Then, on Christmas Day, we spent the afternoon at Dan's brother's house.  My sister-in-law works magic with her decorating at this time of year and I just love being in their home for Christmas.  A ten-foot tree, lights galore, and garland on all the banisters.  It is just exquisite. And the food's great, too!  Dan's sister on the west coast joined in the merriment through Skype.  We -- well, not me really -- linked up three computers so that the whole family could be onscreen and talking at the same time.


  I couldn't help but think back to when I was growing up and we would talk to my grandparents long distance.  On holidays, my parents would often call throughout the day until they reached an open phone line to the east coast.  Then, us four kids would line up at the phone in the kitchen so that we could each have a quick moment to say 'hi' and 'Merry Christmas' and (say thank you for the gifts) 'thank you for the gift.'


But, today is the day after all the hoopla.  And it was a day to linger over a second cup of coffee, go through my stocking again, and read my new book.  I have no tradition for the day-after-Christmas sales.  It totally depends on my mood.  Today, Emily had a shirt to exchange and I had something to return, so we ventured out after lunch and managed to sneak in and out of the mall fairly quickly.  We stopped at another store for some bargains on next year's wrappings and deocration.  Then we were glad to go home, put our feet up and have tea while she watched The Grinch and I caught up with blogging.  No rush, no lists to guide me.

Tomorrow, there will be time for making new lists, catching up on the laundry, putting away the box of wrapping paper and bows and ribbon.  Stowing away the good dishes and finding homes for all the presents.  I'll make a plan for having friends to supper this week, for Em's birthday on Friday and for getting my act together for the 2011.  But, for now, I'll curl up with another Christmas movie and have another cup of tea.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all

Kissing the Face of God, by Morgan Weistling

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making the Yuletide bright

Haven't had much time for blogging.  Too much to do!

There's the wrapping. . .


Caroling. . .
 Baking. . .

Tree trimming. . .

Decorating. . . .
Stocking stuffing. . .
Card writing. . .
And just all around enjoying this special time of year. 
I hope you're all having a merry time of it, too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans

After baking cookies all weekend (and sampling plenty), what we all needed around my house was a hearty bowl of vegetable stew.  With a slice of garlic bread, and a glass of wine, this is a delicious supper.  Be sure to serve it with the lime wedge, as it brings out the flavor.

Here's the recipe.

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4.5 oz) can copped green chilies, drained
1/ 1/2 cups cooked small red beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 Tbs. chopped dry-roasted peanuts.
1 lime

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker.  Add sweet potato and next 9 ingredients (through chilies). Cover and cook on LOW 5 hours or  until vegetables are tender.  Add the red beans in the last hour of cooking.  Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl.  Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew.  Top with peanuts; serve with lime wedges.  This is a recipe that freezes well!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday's Fave 5

It's time for Friday's Fave Five, to look back over the week and see the blessings that abound.  If you'd like to join in, link up with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

1.  A huge blessing in my week, was meeting my new goddaughter for the first time.  She is 13-months-old and a bundle of joy.  Her forever family waited for what must have seemed like forever to finally bring her home from her native land in China.  Stephanie Lian is beautiful, happy and as sweet as can be.  Her chubby, dimpled hands patted my cheek, "fed" me with a spoon, and clutched measuring cups and kitchen whisks while banging them on the table.  I'm going to love watching her grow.

2. Christmas shopping this afternoon with my sister-in-law.  We make it an annual tradition to shop together for our nieces.  The boys far outnumber the one girl in our two families, so it's a treat to be able to shop for girl things for our three teenage nieces. 

3.  Preparing for Christmas this year, the first year in a long time that I haven't been working, has been so much fun.  Between having the extra time and deciding to keep it simple this year, the holiday bustle has been a joy.  For one thing, like many moms, I started the tradition years ago of collecting ornaments for my kids.  With three kids times at least one ornament a year for each of them. . . well, you do the math. This year, I chose a few for each of them to hang on the tree, along with the old fashioned Christmas balls that I love, and the rest of the kids' ornaments I'm packing up in separate boxes for each of them.

4.  Bella.  I've been taking my dogs to the local dog park each day, and it is there that we met Bella.  She is a charming, graceful, black beauty of a Great Dane.  I look forward to seeing her each day, and she is kind enough to make me think that I'm special to her, because she'll come bounding across the park on her long legs with knobby knees, and gently nudge my hand to be petted.   I think I need a Great Dane.  My house will not be complete without one.  She is sweet and gentle. 

5.  Last weekend, I was fortunate to attend a half day retreat in preparation for Advent.  It's a lesson in which I need constant reminding, this invitation to learn how to wait and be present in the moment. 

Thank you, Susanne, for continuing this tradition of finding the blessings in each week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Deck the halls

It's sooo good to have my 'puter up and running again.  I took it to my computer geek for what I thought would be Last Rites.  But it lives!  Yeah!

It's looking a lot like Christmas around our house these days.  Everyone has pitched in to help decorate.  The boys put up the outside decorations. Emily helped me set the village up.  We decided on a different location this year, which involved a ladder, agility and the fearlessness of a 13-year-old.  It's hard to get a picture of it, but it looks so pretty with all the lights on, nestled on this ledge.
 One of my favorite decorations is my angel tree.  My friend Kathy started the tradition for me after my mom passed away.  Each year Kathy has an ornament put on the angel tree at the hospital where she works, in memory of my mom.  The ornament hangs on the tree through the holidays, then Kathy gives it to me.  I now have 10 angels on my tree.  I should add that a few years after starting the tradition for me, Kathy's mom passed on, and now she has an angel tree, too.  Our mothers were dear friends.

The big star behind the tree is actually a mirror that was already hanging on the wall.  I like the way it adds more sparkle to the lights.

Em has been a big help with the baking. I was thinking it would be a good idea to start it early, but now I'm not so sure.  Perhaps it would help if I found a better hiding place for all the tins of cookies:)

It's good to be up and running again on my blog.  Now, I need to make the rounds and get caught up with reading all my favorite blogs.  I hope your season is merry!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bummed . . .

. . . I am.

My laptop went KaPut!  I am trying to decide how I am going to remedy the situation.  The worst part is that it has all of my photos on it, all my addresses (for Christmas cards!), and most of my memory:(  I can retrieve all of that, but haven't decided if I'll replace the laptop or transfer it all over to the kids' computer.  We're not in a position to run out and buy a new laptop, so I will most likely opt for the latter.

It feels weird, being without my laptop.  Like not having my own car or forgetting my pocketbook.  I've certainly come to rely on it more than I ever anticipated.

As soon as I get my act together can convince Joey to help me!, I'll be back to posting again.  And dressing this place up for Christmas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A time of Thanksgiving

Last weekend, my friend Laurie was here for a visit.  She was only at my house for an overnight stay, but we packed a lot into that short time.  I picked her up at the airport on Saturday, and we went out to lunch.  Then, we came back to my house and spent all afternoon in the kitchen.  We made this yummy apple pie. . . Gorgeous, isn't it?  The pastry cutters for the leaves are from Williams-Sonoma.
We baked a ham for dinner and prepared roasted vegetables -- cauliflower, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and carrots.  Homemade rolls and wine completed the meal. That night, we had a fire in the fireplace, sipped eggnog and watched the movie The Holiday.  A perfect way to start the holiday season.  Dan and the kids agreed that Laurie should come and stay more often:)

~~~~~
This week of Thanksgiving, I've been thinking a lot about the people in my life who really make a difference.  Some in small ways --  a neighbor who organizes the annual Thanksgiving football game in the park, the woman who has been a checker at the local grocery store for years and always has a smile, our milkman who delivers every Monday morning, no matter what.  Then there are the big heroes in my life, such as my nephew, RJ.  On Thanksgiving morning,  I was watching a segment on the Today Show, live from Afghanistan.  It brought a lump to my throat, seeing all the soldiers who were smiling and waving to their families on camera.  They sacrifice so much so that the rest of us feel safe in our homes. RJ is one of those people.  He was only eight years old when his mom, Lois, and my youngest brother, Matt, were married.  I've seen RJ and his younger brother, Jason, grow from young boys to young men, and I couldn't be prouder to have them both for my nephews.  RJ is now stationed in Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard.  We will  miss having him home for the holidays this year. Thanks, RJ, for all that you do!
  ~~~

I'm thankful this week for having my husband home.  He's actually at home, as in in town and taking the week off!  I'm grateful that he has a job that provides well for us and that he enjoys, and try not to whine too much when it takes him out of town.  But sometimes, I do. Whine, that is. 

I'm thankful that my eldest son has a new job!  A full-time job, with the all-important benefits.  He's thankful, and happy, too.  

~~~~~
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my dad and stepmom's house.  Speaking of thankful, I am so very thankful for having Carol in our family.  She and my dad have made a wonderful life together, and Carol has made a difference in all our lives.  My children think she hung the moon.  She's always on top of their interests and all their activities, encouraging and cheering them on.  She tutored my son, Luke, in Spanish and was his sponsor for Confirmation.  We are all so blessed to have Carol in our family.

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!  Today, I pulled out all the Christmas decoration boxes and will spend the rest of the weekend decking the halls. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lampshade redo

This morning I woke up, just looking for a project.  Do you get in moods like that, too?  My aunt gave me this lamp about a year ago.  It has a beautiful silk shade, but the lining had become worn and shredded over the years.
The base is so pretty, with delicate green flowers.
I removed the silk fabric and saved it. It's beautiful and will go in my fabric stash for a project down the road.  The fabric I'm using to recover the shade is from an extra curtain panel that I purchased when I bought a valance for the loft, to coordinate different pieces in the room.

Old lamp shades have nice sturdy frames to work with.  All I used for this project was a pair of scissors and a glue gun.
What do you think?
I bought the chair at a garage sale and covered the seat with the same fabric.
Completing a project is inspiring.  I think I'll go dig around my stash for a pillow form and make a matching pillow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's Fave 5

Lots of goodness in this week!  I thought I would have to dig hard to find five things, but when I look back lots of things popped up to the top.  I'm grateful for the chance this exercise gives me to look back and find the good, especially when the week, at first glance, looked a bit grim.

1.  I baked banana bread and remembered to sprinkle the top with raw sugar before I put it in the oven.  Oh my, it is sooo delicious.  The bread turned out just right and the crunchy sweetness of the sugar on top makes it even better.

2.  Today I gave Lilly a much needed bath.  She was so calm and looked at me with her big brown eyes as I washed her "curls" and ears.  She even let me blow dry her a bit and now she's silky and smells so good.

(hmm -- banana bread, washing the dog.  It's got to get better than this).

3.  The first snow!  More to come this weekend:)

4.  My family all gathered here last Sunday to celebrate my aunt's birthday.  My brother, Matt, made his famous meatballs and sauce, I made some appetizers and bread and salad.  My niece who is going to college in Ft. Collins came down, and my sister-in-law and other niece made the drive from up in the mountains where they live.  It was a wonderful time of family fun and talking and laughing -- and continuing the conversation throughout the week on Facebook.  

5.  I watched a t.v. program yesterday that helped me to remember that all we have is this day.  Right now, the present. That the years are going by so fast, and one day we'll look back and wish for one day, one hour, even one minute back of this time, just to experience it all again.  We won't get that, but we have it in our grasp right now.  Don't let it go by unnoticed or wish it away.  I need to be reminded of this.

Hop on over to Susanne's for more Friday's Fave 5.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Snow, snow, snow!

Snow makes whiteness where it falls
The bushes look like popcorn balls
And places where I always play
Look like somewhere else today
~~Mary Louise Allen

Yesterday we had our first snow.  All day long, the sky was heavy and gray, while the air was thick with anticipation everywhere I went.

"Has it started snowing yet?" asked the young man at the coffee shop.  "I'm new to Colorado, and I can't wait for all the snow!"

My husband called from work.  "Is it snowing there?  It's just raining a bit here."

My friend tells me her son woke up this morning and the first thing he asked was, "Is it snowing yet?"  When she told him, no, not yet, he replied, "Then it's not even worth getting out of bed." 

And there were plenty of people who summed up their feelings about the impending change in weather with three little words.  "I.Hate.Snow."

By late afternoon, the sleet had turned to big white flakes and there was just a dusting of snow on the lawn.  The green blades of grass barely peeked through, as though waving goodbye.  

Today is dull and gray.  Tomorrow, we're expecting a "real" snow with several inches on the ground by late morning.  

For the record, I'm in the "I love snow" camp.  Admittedly, by January I'll be whining and wishing for spring.  Whenever I'm asked "what's your favorite season?", I'm always inclined to answer that it's the newness of any of the seasons.  I love the change, the fresh start, like having a big, giant Monday morning.   

What about you?  Are you a fan of snow or do you agree with Carl Reiner's assessment --

A lot of people like snow.  I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hanging by a thread

Fall is hanging by a thread.  Today, I took the dogs for a long walk and then dropped them at home and got my bike.  There's an open space by our house that has miles of trails.  It has a large open field, a stream lined with cottonwood trees, and a large marshy area filled with tall reeds and cat tails.  The sky is so blue today and the light was perfect for taking pictures.  I just want to squeeze every last drop out of fall.

Later this week, we're expecting our first snow, which is kind of weird, because November is the second snowiest month of the year here.  And we haven't had a single snowflake yet this season.

Pretty soon it will be time to take out the wool socks and long underwear.  Does anyone even wear long underwear anymore?  I don't think my kids have ever been outside long enough to get that cold.  Icy cold to the point that snow clings in little ice balls to the ends of your mittens, and your wool hat is wet from pulling it over your face to breath warm air into it and thaw your nose.  I guess they've never worn real wool either, but instead have grown up cloaked in acrylic and "fleece."  Not the real fleece, but the fake stuff. 

Now, I'm depressed.  I've deprived them of so many things.  Itchy sweaters and frozen fingers.  Will they ever forgive me?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back then

I have an aversion to bangs.
It started back in 1961, when this photo was taken. I remember the exact moment. I said to myself, "Self,  as God is my witness, I'll never let anyone cut my bangs again."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cleaning out MY closet

Has anyone been over to PW's lately?  She's cleaning out her closet and giving away clothes.  I have to laugh.  First, because everything is either a size 8 or 10 and if I don't laugh I'll cry.  I was born a size 10.

Second, because I'm cleaning out my closet today, and there isn't one single thing that I would dare put on this blog for all the world to see.

First, there's the jacket I bought to wear for Easter Sunday. (I should say right now, that most of my cast-offs are not even from this century).  Besides the fact that it's a shade of green that would  make a leprechaun cringe, it holds horrible, embarrassing memories for me.  It was only after we got home from mass that day that my family told me I had marched up to communion in front of the entire congregation with the price tag and extra buttons dangling from my armpit.

Then, there's the skirt and shell (does anyone call sleeveless, collarless tops "shells" anymore, or am I showing my age?)  My 21-year-old son took one look at it and said, "I've never seen you wear that."   I said, "That's because the last time I wore it, it was for your christening."  Deciding then and there that I'm over pink and looking like a Happy Birthday cake, I tossed it in the ever-growing giveaway pile.

There's the skirt that drapes beautifully -- just not so much over my hips. The chunky, large knit, cowl-neck sweater, that I can wear for about 30 seconds before hot flashes have me tearing at the neck. And the pink shoes from Kathy's wedding -- a lovely shade of shell pink with pointy toes and spiked heels -- that I'll never be able to wear ever again because my feet would just cry.  These, however, will not go in the giveaway pile. When I die I don't want my entire closet to be ugly "comfortable" shoes, leaving my daughter to wonder if I ever had a life.

There's the tropical print skirt I wore to my 25th class reunion.  I have to say, it was a great outfit, paired with a chocolate brown v-neck, wrap knit top and strappy sandals.  Kathy and I promised one another that we'll never go to another class reunion.  Never again will we fret about what we're going to wear and spend hours shopping and returning outfits before finally settling on something that turns out to be another poor choice.  Never.  Probably. Oh, I guess it's possible we'll one day change our collective  minds and decide to put ourselves through the experience again.

After weeding through miles of clothes rack, sorting my entire wardrobe into piles of "love it", "never liked it", and "those days are gone", I ended up with a couple of large trash bags filled with clothes to take to Goodwill.  And a very clean and organized closet:)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ushering out October

The morning sky has had the coolest clouds the past few days.  All big and wispy in glowing pinks and reds, covering large patches of blue sky.  It's as though someone took a big trowel and spread thin coats of spackle paste all over, leaving all kinds of cool textures across the sky. Earlier in the week, there were a couple of windy mornings where the trees were raining leaves on the streets, and the leaves would go dancing about, making a crunchy sound as they swirled across pavement.

I'm sad to see October leave.  This year, October has been a perfect gentlemen, behaving in a most appropriate way and putting on a full show of autumn. We're all marveling that we haven't had our first snow yet.  The mountain areas have had their share and from my window I can see the highest peaks covered in white.  It won't be long before we will be, too.  In the meantime, I added a few more Halloween decorations to our front porch yesterday and strung some ghost lights up in the dining room.  I found a piece of Halloween fabric in my stash and folded a makeshift runner for the table.  Dug out some candlesticks and jack'o lantern candles.  Put out a few small pumpkins and gourds for a centerpiece. 

Yesterday, I drove Emily to school and on the way home went past the local elementary school.  The little kids were all dressed in costume for their Halloween parties.  A princesses and Buzz Lightyear crossed the street, pulling on the arms of their parents to hurry.  A little girl in a bright blueberry colored wig could hardly contain her excitement as she skipped along the sidewalk.  I don't know what costume she wore under her coat, but I loved the color of her hair.  A kindergarten teacher had magically become Snow White for the day.  I can only imagine how she'll delight all the little girls in her class.  I am sorely missing the days when my kids would dress up and run through the neighborhood, from house to house, coming home with huge bags of candy to pour on the living room floor and sort into piles for "trading."  I would have an unlimited supply of Mary Jane peanut butter taffy -- thankfully none of the kids were too crazy about them!


The other day I watched "Murphy's Romance" with Sally Field and James Garner, while "working" in the kitchen.  It's one of those movies that I never tire of seeing.  These chilly days are perfect for making pots of butternut squash soup and some tomato basil soup, thanks to the last of the tomato crop from my friend.  I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, too, freezing a big bag of them, so that Dan would be sure to have some when he got home on Friday night from his trip to California.  Chocolate chip cookies don't last long around here!
 
I'm already peeking into November, for a glimpse of what that month will bring.  A family birthday dinner for my aunt, a day of Christmas shopping with Dan, writing out Christmas cards, Thanksgiving dinner.  And the usual stuff that doesn't have a season like dentist appointments, parent/teacher conferences and a few 'no school' days.  I'm sad to say farewell to October, but am excited at the prospect of a whole new month!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A blustery day

Yesterday and today were windy days here on the Colorado prairie.  When the wind comes in gusts along the front range, it is a force to be reckoned with.  A news report tonight showed a semi-truck that had been caught in its wrath and was blown on its side.  Some of the gales today were comparable to Hurricane Category Three.  Of course, we don't really have hurricanes here.  Just miles and miles of open prairie where the wind tends to pick up speed and race faster and faster, blowing down trees and houses and anything in its path.

It was in the middle of this frenzy that I was driving along the interstate this morning and noticed a warning light on the dashboard of our new car.  I didn't recognize the icon.  It was a funny looking cup-kinda-thing with a squiqqly bottom and a big ! in the middle.  I didn't know what it meant, but that exclamation point had such a sense of urgency to it, that I pulled off at the next exit, got out the manual and found the source of the problem.  According to the telephone directory-sized manual, the warning light indicated a need to "adjust the tire inflation pressure." In other words, a tire needed air.

It would have been nice if it indicated which tire.  As it was, I pulled over to the air machine which required 75 cents in change that I didn't have.  Fighting the aforementioned Hurricane Category Three winds, I headed across the parking lot to the service station, changed a dollar for quarters, and headed back to the vehicle.  Armed with change and a tire gauge, I circled the vehicle, unscrewing each little cap on each little valve of each of the four tires and tested the air pressure.  Of course, this first involved getting out my reading glasses and squatting down to see the PSI number that was on the side of the tire.  You'd think it would've have been in the manual, but nooooo, the manual said, "as indicated on the side of the tire." 

Every single tire was plump and full at 35 psi.  Since I had the change on me, I squirted a bit of air into the last one, hoping to fool the warning light on the dash into disappearing.  No such luck. 

I remembered that somewhere down the interstate there is a Toyota dealership, so I entered it into the GPS, which instructed me to get back on the interstate.  A half mile later, conveniently located on the frontage road, I passed the dealership with no way to exit for another five miles.  This is a family friendly blog, so I won't repeat here what I called the female voice on the GPS.

Long story short, the very kind service agent at the service garage took my vehicle right in, checked all the tires and diagnosed the problem.  Apparently, the warning light not only tells me when the four tires on the vehicle are low, but it is also kind enough to inform me when the spare tire is low!  Unfortunately, it is not smart enough -- or couldn't give a rat's behind -- to tell me which tire is lacking air! 

With all five tires fully inflated, I proceeded on my journey, when it dawned on me. . . I have no idea where the spare tire on my vehicle is even located.  I'm sure I'll be able to find it when I need it.  Really, how many places could it be?  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This weekend, I . . .

. . . hosted a baby shower for a dear friend, who is leaving for China in a week to pick up her new daughter.

. . . decided I needed a little something extra to put in the shower favor bags.  Went to the store and found a 2 lb. bag of Jordan almonds.  Now have 1 7/8 lbs. of Jordan almonds leftover.  Forgot to give out the favors until the last five guests were on the way out the door. They all went home with handfuls of party favors, to give to their kids.

. . .  watched the Giants/Phillies game.

. . . made my husband an omelet for breakfast, and made pancakes for the rest of the family, because that's what they all like.

. . . celebrated my husband's birthday (Happy Birthday, Sweetie!). 

. . . went grocery shopping.

. . . sat on the back porch, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, drank a cup of coffee and admired the fall colors.

. . . decorated my front porch with pumpkins that Emily and I got at the pumpkin patch last week.

See what everyone else did this weekend, over at Becky's.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 3

The complex where the boys are playing is the spring training facility for two major league baseball teams -- the Padres and the Mariners.  It sits on 145 acres and in the center there's a baseball stadium that seats over 11,000 people.  It is surrounded by 12 major league-sized practice baseball fields. The 'tower' pictured here provides views of four of the fields to the hundreds of coaches and scouts that attend from all over the country.

I know there are hundreds of them because I counted them, when they were all standing in front of  me at the concession stand.  I said, "Excuse me!  There's an awesome, talented and might I add very handsome, 6' 2" pitcher, playing over on field #5 in about 20 minutes, and he's worth taking a look at."  No one said anything except the one balancing his Coke and hot dog and clip board.  He said, "Could you please pass the ketchup?"
It's been quite an experience seeing so many great athletes and so much talent all in one place.  Not to mention the years of experience that the coaches have and their passion for sharing their knowledge with the next generation of players. The boys are having a great time playing the game they love better than any other. They can't get enough, and in the evenings they are gathered around the t.v. watching the Yankees and the Rangers play.


Our time here is going by too fast.  Tomorrow morning we have one more game before heading home.

"Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off."  Bill Veeck

Friday, October 15, 2010

Phoenix

Today we enjoyed a cool front, when the temperatures reached only 96 degrees.  Luckily, our boys' game was held at 8 a.m. this morning, so it truly was nice weather, in the low 70s.  The team played one of their best games ever and by 11:00 we were finished for the day.

Well, sort of.  By this point, our team had played three games in 90 plus degree heat.  Their white pants were streaked with red dirt, and the black jerseys had been absorbing heat and sweat.  Some of the boys had been rinsing their shirts in the sink at night, and a few had extra pairs of pants, but for the most part, things were pretty rank. Some of us parents have rented a house for the weekend, which has a washer and dryer, and one mom had the foresight to bring a large bottle of stain remover.  We gathered up 29 pairs of pants and 29 jerseys and hauled them back to the house in trash bags. The jerseys went right in the washing machine, but the pants required some pre-treatment.  The mom with the stain remover was determined to say the least.  Between the two of us, we sprayed each pair of pants and pre-soaked them in the largest container we could find -- the bathtub.  I thought she was kidding when she said she was going to get in there and stomp those pants in her bare feet (ala "I love Lucy" and the grape stomping episode).  But, no, she wasn't kidding, and she proceeded to kick off her shoes and roll up her pants and hop in the tub! 

After a good stomping and several rinses, several loads went through the washing machine and then out to dry on a makeshift clothesline rigged up by one of the dads.  Another dad was put to work folding while two of us went to the store to buy groceries.  By late afternoon we were ready for all the boys and coaches to come over for a barbeque and pick up their clean uniforms.

We'll be at the ballpark most of the day tomorrow.  I haven't had a chance to see much of Phoenix, but what I have seen is really nice.  Lots of adobe houses and buildings and very clean.  The flowering shrubs are just beautiful and there are so many varieties.  It's always fun to see palm trees and the Sonora cactus are tall and stately.

Reporting live from Phoenix. . .

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 1

I'm typing this with one eye open and just about half asleep.  I promised someone I would keep him posted on the day to day activities of Luke's and my trip to Phoenix.

Luke and I left the house at 3:30 this morning, chauffered by Joe.  Last night at about 10 o'clock, I decided I really didn't want to have to deal with parking our car and catching a shuttle to the terminal in the wee dark hours of the morning.  So, I offered the parking fee to Joe, in exchange for taking us and picking us up late Sunday night.  Since 21-year-olds don't have the same frame of reference for night and day as older folks, it seemed reasonable to him.

I was sooo glad to leave the driving part to someone else.  Especially since I was going on about four hours of sleep. And one of us didn't wake up to his alarm, and another of us realized that she didn't check the gas tank and we had to stop to fill up.

As we neared the airport, the mom of one of Luke's teammates called and explained that they had parked in outlying parking, and were in the shuttle on the way to the terminal when they discovered that "someone" had left his backpack and ID in the car.  So, Joe dropped Luke and me, picked up the friend's mom and drove her back to the outlying parking lot to get the forgotten backpack.  Meanwhile I took her luggage and mine to check in.  Only to discover that one of us (not me!) had exceeded the weight limit for her bag by one and a half pounds, which would result in a $50 charge.  The attendant was so nice, letting me go through the overloaded bag, where I grabbed hair dryer, curling iron and hot brush (weighing exactly one and a half pounds) and shoved them in my bag, and our luggage was on its way, free of charge.

Exhausted, our group of 58 senior high school boys, coaches, and a group of bleary-eyed parents, headed through security and onto the gate, where our departure went smoothly.

It seemed like an entire day had passed when we finally arrived in Phoenix at just 7:25 a.m.  --  to sweltering heat.  By afternoon the temperature had climbed to 98 degrees, and I was sorely missing our gorgeous, cool, fall temperatures in Denver.  Our teams played a total of four games throughout the day.  Luke got the day off and will pitch in an early game tomorrow, when it will be considerably cooler.

The tournament is really a "showcase" where select teams from all over the country -- and some from as far away as Canada and Australia -- come to play, and are observed by college and pro coaches.  It's quite an event, held in a complex of nine baseball fields and games being played continually. The hope, of course, is that the boys will be noticed and given an opportunity to play beyond high school. 

And on that note, I'm off to bed.  Reporting live from Phoenix. . .

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brain dump

I'm having a heck of a time keeping up with blogs these days.  My own and everyone else's.  Is anyone else having a hard time switching over from Bloglines to Google Reader?  I'm just not used to the format and I'm so far behind on reading all of my favorite blogs.  I've already clicked "all read" once, just to get a fresh start.  I'm so not good at change!

I spent two days this week fall cleaning my house.  Does it still count as the same fall cleaning if you do two days in early September and two days in October?  These are the things I ponder.

A very dear friend has learned that her new baby will be arriving from China in a few weeks!!  My sis-in-law and I are kicking into high gear to give her a shower.  Hence, the cleaning today and yesterday.  The shower will be held at my house in two weeks.  I haven't had or been to a baby shower in . . . I can't remember how long. 

Next week, I'm going on a trip with my son to Arizona.  He's playing in a baseball tournament.  I get to enjoy the sun for four days.  I can't wait!

I started Christmas shopping already.

Did you know that pine cones are edible (sorry, don't know where that came from.)  But, did you know that the world has stopped making "regular" light bulbs???  I just learned this at supper the other night.  My husband and my kids all knew.  Why did no one tell me this?  I don't like the curly ones -- yes, I know they're "green" -- and I will need to hurry and stock up on the others before they're all gone.  Why am I the last to know these things?

This is how I get motivated to clean my house.  I text my brother and say, "do you want to have coffee today?" and he texts back, "yes, how 'bout later."  Which is all part of my plan.  So, I clean all day, looking forward to that cup of coffee (which I will ask him to pick up at the coffee shop and bring over, because I'm not too proud, and then I don't have to ask because he says, "how about if I stop and pick up a couple of mochas?"  Ahhh, Yes!), which he does, and we sit on my back porch, which is perfectly cool and lovely on this fall day, and talk for an hour.

I started a photo blog.  It's called Photo A Day.  Technically, it should be "Photo Every Few Days", but that would sound weird.

But not any weirder than this post.

The End.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This weekend, I . . .



. . . made two loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread, copying Becky's idea.

. . . helped my daughter make a fleece throw, using Barb's instructions.

. . . watched four baseball games in beautiful 80-degree weather.

. . . was grateful for cell phones, so I could keep in touch with Dan while he was watching softball and I was watching baseball.

. . . got wa-a-ay far behind on laundry.

. . . had the best breakfast at a truck stop on the interstate.

. . . enjoyed the two-hours in the car with my middle child, while he played his music for me, told me about each artist, and we had time to just chat.

. . . had a date night and watched "Date Night" on pay-per-view.

What'd you do this weekend?  Head on over to Becky's and link up!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A mountain drive

Today was a perfect day for a drive in the mountains to view the fall colors.  We loaded up the car with a cooler packed with sandwiches for lunch.  Our youngest child plugged in her earbuds, and 9-month-old Lilly, our springer spaniel, settled in for the trip.  We planned to stop along the route and visit some little towns and attractions, and we thought it would be a good opportunity to 'socialize' Lilly.  She is getting better, but still insists on 'woofing' at anything with four legs, be it a dog, a cat, and we soon discovered, large elk.

She desperately needs to be disciplined.  But, it's hard not to laugh when she 'woofs.'  She literally says, "Woof."  However, this is something we need to discourage.

We weren't alone on our drive.  I preferred our mode of transportation, but it was impressive to watch these bikers haul up hills at 8,000 feet.



The day was cool and clear, a beautiful September day.  It's been a long time since we've been tourists in our own state, but it's worth doing every so often.  Like seeing your neighborhood through new eyes.  We went through several little towns, including Lyons where we stopped at the farmer's market and I took a quick browse through this little shop.

For mountain folks, elk are a common site. Not so for us.  These two were butting heads just moments before I took the picture.

We had our picnic lunch by a lake near the famous Stanley Hotel.  (The setting for the movie The Shining.  I've never seen the movie, but I did see a beautiful wedding held on the front veranda years ago.)


We continued our drive on the Peak to Peak highway, and stopped at the beautiful Chapel on the Rock.  It was built in the 1930s on a huge granite rock, discovered by a priest and two friends when they were searching for the remnants of a meteor that had fallen.  I once attended a candlelight service there and it was an experience I won't forget.

One of the purposes of our trip was to see the fall colors.  There were so many beautiful views.  I didn't take a lot of pictures, but instead enjoyed the scenery.

On the second half of the drive, we went through another small mountain town, Nederland.  We went home by way of my inlaws house, where Dan worked with his dad on a house project, Em read a book, Lilly chased her shadow in the back yard, while my MIL and I went to Noodles & Co. to pick up supper.  Such a delightful day!