Saturday, November 30, 2013

Art Class

I ran into Michael's a few weeks ago and was stopped by one of the sales clerks. She explained that they were having a "two for the price of one" sale for art classes. Hmmm, I thought.... I've often considered taking a painting class. Maybe this was my opportunity! So, Dreaming signed up for her two classes.

In class, the instructor showed us a few 8" X 10" floral images and said to pick one. By the time the pile got around to me, I had slim pickings. I selected a columbine. She showed us how to use carbon paper (remember that stuff?!) to transfer the outlines to the canvas board and then, more or less said, "Paint it!"

I am not sure what I expected, but I didn't feel like I received much instruction and I was very frustrated. I'm thinking there was more real instruction in this video!


Isn't it cute?!

After two hours I walked out of class with my not-yet-finished piece. Later in the week I worked on completing it, but I didn't enjoy the process and I wasn't pleased with my efforts. I grew frustrated with the task and just slapped some paint on the board and said the Hell with it.

(Hmmmm.... it looks better in this picture than it does in person!)

I decided to try again. I found a picture I had taken of sunflowers in my garden. I enlarged it and transferred it to the board.


I began mixing the paint and took a bit more time scrutinizing slight variations of color brought about by shadow. I found myself enjoying the process a bit more. Perhaps it was the realization that I didn't have to complete the work in two hours - I could just enjoy playing with the colors. The color is off. I blame that partially on the lousy light in my 'studio', aka the kitchen table, and partially on the fact that my instructor never said anything about acrylic paints drying a bit darker - I had to learn that (and lots more) from watching instructive videos on YouTube. But, all in all, I was quite pleased with my second effort.


Picasso, I'm not.
But, I think I could have some fun with this!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Marriage Made in Heaven

And then there was....


I guess they liked it!

This year I decided to shift away from the traditional pumpkin pie. Many years ago I had enjoyed a pumpkin cheesecake with a carrot cake crust, so I decided to try to replicate that. It seemed to work quite well. 
  • I prepared the ingredients for a carrot cake recipe and for a pumpkin swirl cheesecake recipe
  • I prepared a 10" springform pan and preheated the oven. I put foil around the pan as I planned to bake the cake in water. The last time I tried this the water leaked into the crust and made it very gooey. (However I decided not to use the water bath as I decided that if the cake was browned, or cracked, it wouldn't bother anyone in my household!)
  • I mixed the dry ingredients for the carrot cake in one bowl, and the liquids in another.
  • The stand mixer was used to beat the cream cheese and sugar. I removed some to leave plain, and added the pumpkin and extra sugar to the remainder.
  • The wet and dry ingredients of the carrot cake were mixed together and the batter was poured into the pan and smoothed.
  • Half of the pumpkin cheesecake mix was carefully put on top and smoothed.
  • I added dollops of the basic cheesecake, then the rest of the pumpkin and carefully used a knife to 'cut' the pumpkin/basic cheese mixture to swirl it. 
  • I baked the cake at 325 for an hour and an additional 15 minutes, until the cheese mixture was setting. I turned the oven off and let the cake sit in the oven another 20 minutes just to be sure.

The end result was quite yummy, as you can see from the first picture! 

A few things I will do differently next year:

I reduced the recipes to two thirds of the original ingredients. This was fine for the carrot cake, but I would have preferred more cheesecake on top. (What was I thinking?!! Oh, wait... I was thinking that I didn't have enough cream cheese.... Ha - next year I will buy enough!) Having more cheesecake batter to work with might have let the swirl work. It looks swirled in the pan, but on the plate, it looked like layers. I figured since I had two recipes of cake, reducing the amount would still fill a 10" pan. Not so! Next year I'll use the 9" pan, 2/3 of the carrot cake recipe and the entire cheesecake recipe. The finished cake did not crack and was not overly dark, so I will choose not to mess with the aluminum foil or the water bath. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

The turkey is stuffed,
potatoes are smashed,
onions are creamed,
vegetables are chopped,
cheesecake is in the fridge.

Phew!

I still need to make apple pie and creme anglaise,
sweep up Tucker "tumbleweeds",
set the table,
bake the root veggies,
and cook the broccoli.

Oh, and clean the bathroom.


My younger son will bring his grandfather and lady friend
and we will feel like fat pigs this afternoon.
But, we will be happy fat pigs.
We have much to be thankful for.

I hope the same for you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Not to be outdone,
Here is son #1
1988



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Four and Twenty....

As I went to visit my father I was stopped at this intersection.


The birds were all lined up,
pretty birds all in a row!

(I apologize for the lousy picture but I was
trying to hurry before the light turned,
and of course, my phone camera was
not reacting as quickly as I'd like!)

Why?
They weren't at any other intersection.
A puzzle for which I will never have an answer!

But, despite my inclination to make pies at this time of year,
these little guys will be safe!
No four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie at our house!




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: Thanksgiving

I haven't had a moment to chat with Patrice and her friends for quite a while. Today she reports that it is very cold, so we will be chatting in the kitchen. It sounds like fun! If you care to join us, respond to Patrice's questions either in a comment on my site or her's, or respond on your blog and link to Patrice's blog, following the link at the end of my post.


This week Patrice's questions are on the topic of Thanksgiving. I will be preparing the meal. It will be very simple this year, with only my younger son, my Dad and his fiancĂ© coming. Yes, you read that correctly.... Dad is getting married. He is 92 and his sweetie is 75 (or is it 74?) She is a wonderful lady and loves my Dad, even as his mental state slows down. Despite Dad's dementia, he is very sweet and happy. 

 Patrice asks:
  1. If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, what are you looking most forward to on Thursday?
  2. My favorite Thanksgiving dish is_________________.
  3. Do you ever go through periods of time when you get hooked on a specific food?
  4. What's the best stuffing for a turkey?
  5. When you were a child, were you ever in a Thanksgiving play, pageant, mock pilgrim dinner, or anything different to celebrate?

My answers:
  1. I enjoy the morning of Thanksgiving day. The Macy's parade is on TV in the background and the kitchen smells wonderful as I begin the stuffing for the turkey. 
  2. I like sweet potatoes - in almost any form. 
  3. I laughed at this question because Mr. Dreamy is definitely like this. He will go months and months eating the same thing for lunch or breakfast, then one day.... he's done with that and moves to something else. 
  4. I like to add pecans and dried cherries to my stuffing. I would love to add cornbread but Mr. Dreamy doesn't care for it.
  5. I don't recall that I ever had the opportunity to participate in anything like this, but my younger son dressed as an Indian in preschool and I had a kids' Thanksgiving a few days later. (Do you see our dog, hoping she can get whatever is going to be on the table?)

I have to run. The sun is out and I'm heading to play pickleball.... after I make Mr. Dreamy's breakfast; one egg over easy and a piece of toast. This has been his breakfast since some time around February... I can get it on the plate in a jiffy!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate

I spent hours making a beautiful card for Thanksgiving, quilling leaves in warm fall colors and quilling a cornucopia spilling with pumpkins, squash, carrots, apples, grapes and corn... all made of strips of paper. I whirled and twirled the paper, and used sticky glue that made the papers stick to my fingers, and then placed all of the itty-bitty pieces on the card. Did I think to take a picture? No... darn it! But the leaves I made looked very similar to these.... and I clustered them together along the top and one side of the card. The cornucopia was in the opposite corner, with its contents spilling along the bottom of the card.


I ventured to the post office to mail the card to my brother and his wife. Since I had stupidly made the card too large for a normal envelope, I used a padded envelope I had on hand. When I arrived at the counter, I asked the PO employee if she had a "Do Not Bend" stamp (realizing I hadn't written it on the envelope in red ink). She picked up the envelope, and bent it... both ways... (yeah, lady, it does bend!) before saying that she didn't have a stamp and even if she did, it wouldn't guarantee that the envelope wouldn't be bent. Inside a voice was shouting..."don't bend it - you idiot!" On the outside I kept my cool.
The postal employee did her magic with the scale and the computer and declared, "That will be $2.10." The read-out I could see declared my piece to be a "parcel".... not a letter. I asked her when a letter became a parcel. Whereupon she picked my envelope up, bent it one way, then the other... and said, "it all depends on the size."
At this point, it is a good thing that I don't have any hormones left in my body, or I would have been screaming at the lady, "WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT DO NOT BEND?!!!" I might have been reduced to a sobbing blob on the post office floor, or other patrons may have had to restrain me as I clawed my way over the counter to throttle the postal employee.  Instead, I shut my mouth, fumed inside, and marched out of the Post Office.
I mean, really, is it so hard to understand "Do NOT bend"?!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crash!

While I was out in the yard I became aware of the sound of an engine close by. We are on the approach to a small airport, and the planes often fly overhead. However, I realized this sound was a bit louder than usual, and when I turned, I saw a plane flying especially low. As I watched, the plane went over my head. I felt like I could reach out and touch it. The plane flew beyond me, and it seemed that it was flying too low to clear the trees on the hillside opposite my house. My heart came up into my throat.


At the last minute the pilot pulled up, barely brushing the tips of the trees. He climbed and made a sharp turn, coming back in my direction, but his altitude was decreasing to the point he was once again just brushing the tops of trees. His plane was lost to my sight behind our big barn.


I ran in that direction to try to keep the plane in sight. As I rounded the barn, the plane's nose came up and it stalled, flopping down on its belly and plowing a furrow in the pasture beyond our barn. It looked something like a whale smacking the water after it jumps. The plane bounced once or twice, and settled amidst the dust and debris. The air was suddenly quiet, such a sharp contrast to the previous din of straining engine and rending metal.  The only sounds for the moment were the creaking and pinging of the plane as it shifted and settled into the prairie grasses. I wasn't sure whether to run to the plane, or stay away in case it caught fire. As I stood in indecision, the door opened and the passengers and crew, 12 people in all, came out onto my pasture. They were shook, but unharmed, and wandered toward me in a daze.


I ran up to the small group to see how I might help. In the back of my mind I was thinking that this was going to make a great blog post, and wished I had my camera.

The dream played itself out, but when I awoke, I shook my head in disbelief... how amazing that even in my dreams I think about blogging! And that, dear readers, is the plane truth!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Safe, At Last

I stopped by a sports store and purchased some racquetball protective glasses. Luckily I can see well enough to play pickleball without my prescription glasses, so I'm thinking these should keep me safe in the future. Let's play ball.....


Oh, and the better news? My glasses are still covered under a 90-day warrantee. Phew! The frames just need to be ordered, and I'll be back in business, wearing glasses that don't tilt at funny angles that cause the bifocal to go out of focus. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

That Was Then....

This is now...

*

*

*


Then:
(Tuesday)

Now:
(Thursday)

Then:
(Tuesday)

Now:
(Thursday)

What a difference a day makes!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This is my life...

I have several friends who write/post photo essays of their lives. I really enjoy visiting their blogs. I decided to create my own photo essay....

My day begins with letting the dogs out....

and in...

I make coffee,
(if you use a Keurig... can one say they "make" coffee?!!)

and feed the beasts...
and let them out...

and in...


... and make breakfast for Mr. Dreamy.
(OK... so the double yolked egg was discovered a long time ago
and I never had a chance to use the photo until now!)
But, I did make him a fried egg, over easy...

I grab my breakfast and head out the door.

 I love the view from my house.
Especially yesterday morning, with the clouds between 
the mountains and me... and sun on the snow-covered peaks.
(Why is it that they look closer in real life?!)

Many days we have blue skies, 
(It is reported that CO has over 300 sunny days a year)
so the clouds are always welcome for their ever-changing beauty.

On my way through town,
I see that the trees are being strung with lights.

In the 2 hours I was gone the town worker guys
had swapped out bales of straw, corn stalks and pumpkins
for garlands on the lamps with red bows,
and lights in the trees.
(Darn... I should have taken before and after pictures.)

I was on my way to play pickleball...

Yesterday morning was not quite routine...

I got hit in the face with a ball....
and broke my glasses (again)!
At least this time I didn't need stitches!

Then, after a brief stop at home for lunch,

So, here is where I begin continue to fail with my photo essay...
I forgot to take yummy pictures of our lunch!

I made my way to therapeutic riding.


This is Grace. 
My favorite Shire/Thoroughbred cross.
(Shhh... don't tell her that she is the only S/T cross at the barn.)
Photo essay failure...
Grace's student cancelled, so I didn't get to show her in action.

But, I did get to take her boyfriend, Toby, for a walk.
Toby rules the paddock and keeps all of the other 
geldings away from Grace.
They make quite a pair!

Toby needs to be exercised to keep his hind legs supple.

Here a visitor admires Harley...

I tacked Harley up and led him for the next class.

Photo essay failure...

I didn't take any pictures of Harley decked out in his surcingle...
nor pictures during the class...
or on the trail...
or pictures of the student having a melt down...
that would have been really cute!

Failure begets failure....

I neglected to take any more pictures...

None of the dogs going in and out...
None of their lovely dinner...
No pictures of my lovely dinner...

It is really hard to create a photo essay.
I guess I'm not up to it!
I don't seem to have the "stick-to-itiveness"!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rewarding

Blogging is very rewarding. It gives the blogger the opportunity to write and to "publish". It offers the opportunity for feedback. My blog is a chronicle of my life and describes events both big and small. It is great fun to go back and see what I was doing three years ago, on this day, or whatever! 

One of the rewards of blogging is to be nominated for an award. This has happened several times and I feel grateful that readers have passed awards on to me. However, not intending to be ungracious, I prefer not to entangle myself in the details of the award. I don't care to pay the price! (For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogging and awards, you may not know that the awards come with strings attached. Generally one must respond to questions, come up with questions for others to answer, thank the blog that bestowed the award upon you and pick 5-15 other blogs to pass the award to, and notify them of their prize. It is fun to receive the award, but it takes a long time to deal with the demands of the prize. In some ways, a blog award is kin to a virus.)

I want to acknowledge the 'gifts' and let everyone know that I really appreciate the nominations, even if I am not playing the game! I believe that having another blogger recommend your blog for a prize is a high honor, and I want to thank those bloggers for the award, for reading my blog and for following along! Well, actually, I thank everyone who reads my blog... you don't have to give me an award - I appreciate all of you, regardless.

Thank you,

American Girl, Paola's Horse Blog
Fundy Blue, Standing Into Danger





Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home Again

My trip was short, but very sweet. As promised, Marjie and I reminisced and talked, had some great meals, talked and walked and too soon it was time to say, "Good-bye".

By chance, our planes came into the same terminal, two gates from each other, at the Kansas City Airport. I enjoy seeing how different airports handle parking, moving people and security. This particular airport has three large terminals shaped like "C's". They have constructed parking garages in the center of each circle.

The airlines have their own baggage areas adjacent to the gates, so one does not have to walk far to obtain checked items. Ground transportation flows through the "C" collecting folks who need to go to off-site parking or to the car rental facility. All car rental companies share a beautiful new building about 5 minutes from the airport, and the parking lot is practically in sight of the nearest highway heading into Kansas City. It is all very convenient. The only drawback I noticed is that security is set up for only a few gates, so once you are at the gate, you have little space and limited services, e.g. food, magazines or other shops.

In short order we had our car and made it to the hotel near the University of Missouri, Kansas campus. From there we made our way to the Country Club Plaza, a premier shopping area that was designed and built in the 20's. The architecture is reminiscent of Seville, Spain. The area is beautiful, with wonderful details on the buildings and lots of fountains and statues.

Neither Marjie, nor I, are 'shoppers', but we enjoyed strolling through the area and it was a convenient area to meet Marjie's daughter and her delightful boyfriend. We stopped at Jack Stack's Barbecue (iconic Kansas City barbecue establishment) for a late lunch/early dinner. Yum!
This is my picture
and it was all good!

That evening we made our way on campus to see Kate in the role of one of the 'wicked' stepsisters in Jules Massenet's "Cendrillon". The comedic opera was brilliantly staged and Kate did a fabulous job. Dressed in pink, with lots of feathers and a blond wig, I would not have recognized her had she not given me a heads-up! Kate is a born performer and has always had a wonderful, strong singing voice. She will finish her Master's program in opera in another year.
This is Kate's picture!

Knowing of my love for card making, Marjie suggested a trip to the Hallmark Visitor's Center and museum the next day. It was fascinating! The founder, Mr. Joyce Hall, began selling post cards in Kansas City when he was 19 and from that built his huge greeting card empire. He was quite visionary.  Hallmark has a huge presence in Kansas City today.
Here, Marjie points to a quilled card made by one of the employees on the annual tree they created to surprise Mr. Hall.

Here it is close up:


We topped our trip off with a meal that will not soon be forgotten at The Webster House.

The Webster House was originally constructed as a school in the 1880's. Now the classrooms on the first floor house beautiful shops with antiques, upscale clothing and home decor. We ate in a classroom upstairs and everyone had a fabulous meal.

The following morning, after good-bye's to Kate and her boyfriend, we retraced our paths and made our way back to our respective homes. Both Marjie & I agreed that we will need to plan an annual 'destination' meet and greet in the future!



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sister From Another Mister

Have you ever met someone, and almost instantaneously known that that particular person is special and is destined to become your best friend? A few times in my life that has happened... and those women are still my best friends.

Marjie & Dreaming in Estes Park a few years ago

Today I am hopping on a plane to visit Marjie. We met at a preschool parent meeting when our oldest children were 3. I was pregnant with my youngest, and she had her youngest in her arms. For many years we had all kinds of adventures, and often shared 'mom' duties with each other's children.

Due to family circumstances, like needing a job to live, Marjie and her family moved away 15 years ago. Since then we have been able to see each other ever year or two. And, of course, when we get together, after the initial hug and the first flurry of words, we settle into doing things together as if we had never been apart.

I am meeting Marjie in Kansas City. We will attend the opera at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where Katie, the baby who was in Marjie's arms when we first met, will be playing the part of a wicked stepsister in Cendrillon (Cinderella). We will enjoy the show. It will be wonderful to see Katie all grown up. We will talk, and reminisce, and babble into the wee hours of the morning. We'll laugh, and probably cry. We'll pack a few years into a few days and return to our own lives with a bit of a lift, and a few more memories.

How about you? Do you have far-away friends like this? Do you, like me, kinda feel this way about many of your blog friends? How wonderful that we can 'meet' through the magic of the Internet and form bonds that could endure throughout our lives!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day-to-Day Stuff

I am enjoying our fall. We have had more than our share of bright, sunny days and the temperatures, by mid day, allow me to enjoy life outside in my shirtsleeves or a very light jacket. It has been delightful! We have had virtually no rain or snow. Yesterday I watered our trees. Today I'll need to get some water on my shrubs and perennials.

If you want to find me on any weekday morning, your first place to check would be the recreation center's "Field House". I am enjoying playing pickleball each morning. I am improving, but just when I think that way, I have a lousy day where I can't make a point and lose far too many!

I am visiting my dad a few times a week. It is very painful for me to stop by. On a good day we can discuss a few things and what he says is germane to the conversation. However, more often than not, what comes out of his mouth doesn't make a lot of sense. It is like there is a genie inside of him who has devised a new code, and hasn't bothered to give me the key. Syntactically, everything my dad says is correct. He has his nouns and adjectives and conjunctions... but I can't figure out what he is intending to say. Despite all of this, Dad, at 92, is going to get married in January. He has wanted to marry his lady friend since she moved in two years ago, and, I have told him "NO"... emphatically. He had a disastrous marriage previously and I just didn't want to see him hurt in that way again. But, it is obvious that he loves Judy, and Judy loves him - even with his diminishing mind and body. How can I stand in the way of his happiness? So over the next few weeks I will be taking Judy shopping for a new outfit for the day. She, being practical, didn't want to do that - but I told her I want her to feel special and a new "go to church" dress that she can use on other occasions would be perfect!

When I find a bit of free time I wander down to my dungeon. There I can make a mess and end up with little bits of paper all over the floor, and shut the door on it and not be bothered! I am enjoying working with my Cricut machine and incorporating different techniques in making cards. My latest addition, is quilling.

What starts out looking like this,
strips of paper I have coiled and smooshed...


Turns into this...


or this...


and then is transformed to look like this:


or this....


I guess you could say I am doing this
just for the quill of it!


 Yeah, that was pathetic.
I guess it is time for me to stop!

Take A Hike

Stepping back in time a bit....  I flew into Denver to pick up my car, visit with my dad and then get a few odds and ends taken care of. Th...