Dinner and a Show

Last Friday night, my friend Cathy and I went to dinner and a show. I took advantage of the fact that Cathy was excited to eat somewhere new and adventurous (Ken had no interest in going here) and we went to Le Central. We were tempted by the Moules Frites (mussels and fries) but decided to try those another time. We each had a salad, I had the Salade Périgourdine  with Hazelnuts, mushrooms and country-style pate with mixed greens in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette:

It was excellent. Cathy had a different one, whose name I can’t recall, and it appears that it has rotated off the menu. She said it was also excellent. (Their menu changes every week, not every item goes off, but some always go off and new ones come on.)

I had the Bouillabaisse du Central: Mediterranean fumet infused with saffron and prepared with mussels, scallops, shrimp, red and white fish, potatoes, onions, fennel and leeks; sided by a spicy rouille:

And the “side” of spicy rouille as well as some parmesan and croutons. It was excellent, but I think I like cioppino a little better, spicier. Definition of rouille: (I had to look it up) Rouille (pronounced: [ʁuj], French ‘rust’) is a sauce that consists of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. It is served as a garnish with fish, fish soup and, notably, bouillabaisse. Rouille is most often used in the cuisine of Provence.

Cathy had the sole, which is also not on the menu this week (if I find the receipt, I will put in the details that are on there….)

She was particularly taken with the rice, because she does not really care for wild rice, but said this was excellent, as was the fish.

We would have liked to get dessert, but we were running out of time for the 7:30 performance of “Ring of Fire” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Excellent show, I recommend it. It tells the story of the life of Johnny Cash, without trying to imitate him, but gives you an idea of his spirit and talents. Great show, songs that I hadn’t heard in years. For some reason “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog” is not on too many radio station playlists around here. All in all, a very fine evening!

Soup and Jello Molds

In preparation for an early morning board meeting, I am staying up at a hotel near work, where the board meeting will be. So, I thought I would take the chance to eat somewhere interesting in Fort Collins. Young’s Cafe popped up on Yelp when I searched for pho, they actually don’t have pho available at night, but I saw some other things I was interested in. First, since I am easily suggestible, and someone posted something about dumplings and I read it, I had to have some dumplings. Fried shu mai to be exact. They were OK, nothing special, they kind of had the temperature and texture that indicated they were being “held” in the kitchen and just (maybe) warmed up when someone ordered them.

Then I asked my waiter if the Lemongrass soup or the Flaming soup was better. He said if I liked seafood, the lemongrass soup was better, because it had shrimp, mussels, and squid, whereas the flaming soup only had shrimp and vegetables. Well, the flaming soup was also FLAMING but I decided to save that for another time. This soup didn’t have little wussy calamari rings in it, it had big chunks of squid, large flat pieces. Well, I knew I was getting squid and I don’t mind that. Kind of sad when I am eating a meal like this alone and don’t have anyone with me to gross out with my big chunks of squid. Four good sized mussels, so that was nice. And it was VERY lemongrassy and NICELY spicy, usually I have to ask for the chili oil or the sriracha sauce even with “spicy” soup but this was just perfect, plenty of chili oil.

Yes, that big white thing is the squid. And yummy mushrooms too.

I also hadn’t had a chance to go thrifting in Fort Collins yet, and I have been reading a new blog that got me excited about Jello  – The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn, and I think I will doing some Jello-ing, so I wanted to look for some cheap Jello molds. The Goodwill was very disappointing, the Salvation Army was their office location, not their store (need to do more research next time) but The ARC Thrift Store came through for me.

So now I have 4 Jello molds to experiment with. I have told myself I can’t buy any more until I make something in each of these. Like many of my projects, I may lose interest after I get started, so this may be a good idea. They can always get donated back to Goodwill….

I also can’t resist vintage textiles, especially wool blankets. My dream is to find a Pendleton wool blanket at a rummage sale someday. Well, this one is a Faribault, and it is not 100% wool, but it was extra interesting for another reason.

Specially made for Continental Airlines! I thought that was pretty cool! And it was in good condition, a good sofa size throw blanket, I couldn’t resist. You can always use blankets, right?

Maybe I should pack this one and take it on my next airplane jaunt…

Did you vote in the poll yet on which recipe I will be making for your enjoyment? For cryin’ out loud, why not?

Recovery Mode

Sorry for no entry yesterday, but I was still recovering from either food poisoning or a stomach virus this weekend. I suspect food poisoning, because as soon as I got all of that food out, I felt much better. Not a pleasant night while that was happening though, and everything I planned on getting done on Sunday got postponed. Felt a little better on Monday, I had been planning on working from home and attending a lunch meeting, but took a sick day instead and skipped the lunch meeting (food, still, ugh, not a good thought.) Have been subsisting on popsicles, Lipton chicken noodle soup, milk toast, and 7Up. Would make Jello but I forgot to get any CoolWhip, and what is Jello without Coolwhip?

And Sunday was my birthday, so that was an interesting way to spend my birthday. Memorable, I guess.

What do you eat at your house when you get sick? Growing up it was always 7Up, and Campbells Chicken noodle soup. Ken introduced me to the Lipton chicken noodle soup mixes, and I had heard about milk toast, and just tried it for the first time (not bad).

It is very odd for me to not want to look at, think about, smell, or watch food on TV. I started to go upstairs when Ken had warmed up some leftovers for dinner and I had to turn around, and wait for awhile. Usually I claim Monday night as “My TV” night when I get to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but not this Monday….

MaryAnne was more than happy to have me home all day, she thought I was here specifically to throw her sparkly balls for her to fetch. I did manage to wash a couple of loads of laundy (delicates, etc.) that Ken didn’t do yesterday, and put away my laundry. Made a run to the library and the grocery store (for popsicles) and then came home and thought I might need a little nap. I lay down on the couch at about 3 and woke up at 5:45, don’t remember dreaming or anything, just waking up occasionally when the house creaked because of the terrific wind we were having and thinking, hmm, I have been asleep about 15 minutes. I hope I sleep that well again tonight.

It has been so nice here that thoughts have turned to gardening. Thinking I will turn one of the beds that I usually put tomatoes in into a poppy bed. Wishing I could get up to SD to get some of my grandmother’s poppies, which are already up, so it will probaby be too late by the time I get up there. I love homegrown tomatoes but I always seem to plant a bunch of them and then it is too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet and I don’t get good results, so maybe I will just try one in a container and a few in the regular garden.

Saturday, Saturday

Saturday morning started out with a quick trip to my Avon lady’s house to pick up my order. I stock up big time on their bubble bath every time it is on sale. It is the best bubble bath I have found anywhere, and believe me, I try everything. I tend to like the “kid” scents first.

When I make a “My Favorite Products” page, Avon bubble bath will be the first thing on there. I usually get a bunch of lip balm too, usually anything jelly bean/sugary candy flavored. I am not sure that it ends up doing my lips much good, since I like the taste and then lick my lips….

Ken went out golfing because it sounded like Saturday was going to be nicer than Sunday. He doesn’t always get to golf in March. In 2003, we had the St. Patrick’s day blizzard, which amounted to about 3 feet of snow, so March is highly variable.

After my Avon pick-up, I went home to work on the landscape quilt a little more. Then off to Gregorio’s, the Mexican restaurant that has the shrimp soup that I love love love. The crowd was a little thin there, with it being St. Patrick’s day. Apparently St. Patrick’s day is not a day for Mexican food. The soup was as good as always, apologies for forgetting to get a picture. It had this delicious mostly chicken (?) or shrimp based broth, maybe not even tomatoes, onions, potatoes sliced very thin, a little rice, many many green peppers and red pepper and jalapenos (especially if you tell the waitress you want it HOT HOT HOT). Well, it was not quite as spicy hot as last time, but it was good. Their chips and salsa are good too, and by the time I the soup gets there, I can’t eat the whole thing, so I get a container to go and then I have breakfast for the next day! Mmmmmmmmm. I have not yet figured out how to duplicate this recipe at home.

Then I stopped at Tuesday morning on the way home because I was still looking for hat boxes. They had only one, and I didn’t particularly care for the design. I went home from there, forgetting that I wanted to stop at Hobby Lobby and look for hat boxes, and that I should go to the library to pick up the books I had on hold.

Progress on the quilt:

Those reds on that hill are really red-violets, the color is a little off in this picture.

I got home and worked on the landscape quilt again, and ran out of Wonder Under (fusible product for sewing, iron on to the back of fabric and then you can iron the fabric onto other things). My role model in fusing quilts (Melody Johnson at Fibermania) says ONLY use Wonder Under, so I took my 50% off coupon to JoAnn fabric and I bought a whole bolt of it. That should hold me for a while.

Since I was out and about again (I need to consolidate my appointments better so as to save on $$$ gas) I ran to Hobby Lobby and found a hat box (victory!) for less than $10, it may have been even more on sale than that, I forgot to look at the receipt, as well as part of my niece Taylor’s birthday gift (HA! Taylor, I know your sister reads this, I am not going to say what it is!) and stopped at the library to get my books, including “Yellowstone Super Volcano” by Harry Turtledove, which probably means I will have nightmares about volcanoes all week.

Then I went to DSW and went shoe shopping. Unfortunately, I was wearing Crocs so I didn’t have my orthotic inserts in, and that affects how shoes fit, so I bought 3 pairs and I am pretty sure I will have to return at least 1. I still have to stop at Bass some night this week, I usually have good luck there.

I had put a turkey breast in the crock pot earlier in the day Saturday, and it smelled great. I knew I was going to miss out on crispy skin this way, but I wanted to get it cooked and out of the freezer, knowing it would make good leftovers for Kenny to eat this week on the days when he has to work late. Between the juice from the Crockpot (including 15 oz of chicken broth the recipe calls for) and the plastic bag of gravy that came with the turkey breast, I made A LOT of gravy. Had leftover mashed potatoes from earlier in the week, was too tired to peel potatoes Saturday night and decided to do that on Sunday and make PLENTY for the week. I used this recipe, and it was excellent. Very moist. Sorry, no pics of the turkey, it tasted great but it wasn’t beautiful.

Growing Up Next Door To Grandpa

Let me tell you, growing up with your own personal Grandpa living next door is just about the best thing that can happen to a kid. Having Grandma next door was really pretty good too, but she didn’t take you on adventures like Grandpa did. (Below, Grandma and Grandpa in 1967. BEFORE MY TIME, please note!)

Grandpa would let you steer the pickup no matter how old you were. Grandpa was up for a fishing trip at any time. Even if you were doing something that was work, it was fun with Grandpa. We would go out with him and “help irrigate” by making new ditches for the water with the pickup, often getting stuck in the process. Then we would “rrrrrrrooohhhm” back and forth until we either got out or got more stuck. If we got more stuck, then we would shoot the gun in the air until my Dad came and rescued us. Dad sure got a lot done on those days.

Another good way to spend time (and get us out of Mom’s hair for a few hours) was hunting rocks. Now, Grandpa knew to look for agates. Us kids were usually running around, getting cactus in our feet, and picking “good rocks” that were anything but agates but that we loved and treasured and carried home and insisted be kept in the porch. And Grandpa was always there to admire all of them.

The picture below is from 1989, Mom and Dad’s 25th Anniversary celebration. Their anniversary is in December but that is always unpredictable as far as weather is concerned.

Grandpa took me out in the pickup one time to help feed cows, I must have been three or four. Uncle Curtis was along too, and when we were up by a dam in the pasture, Uncle Curtis went to get out of the pickup, and I followed him and he didn’t know it, or maybe we were getting back in, but somehow I got my thumb slammed in the door. Of course Grandpa offered his immediate remedy to everything, which was to spit some tobacco juice on it. I believe I declined. Back to the house we went, and I even got taken into town to see the Dr. I don’t believe anything was seriously wrong, just really bruised and skin scraped off, and I got a wooden flute at the Dr.’s office for being good (that is what I remember MOST about the day). And then the nest time we were out in the pasture, Grandpa told me that draw (low place between the hills) was now called “Dumb Thumb Draw.” And so it was called for the next 25 years, at least.

Below: Celebrating my birthday and Grandpa’s birthday, which were only 9 days apart.1976 I think.

Grandpa died at age 99 in 2003. He had been married 73 years. What changes he saw in a lifetime. What memories for a kid. And this is just the beginning, there will be more to come…..and about Grandma Clarice and my other grandparents as well. I have never suffered from having an uninteresting family.

Grandma and Grandpa with my dad’s 1959 Chevy. (Note to Uncle Robert: Yes, I am going to get all these scans saved onto a CD for you soon!)

MaryAnne the Cat

We brought MaryAnne home from the ranch in SD in fall of 2009. We had to have Misty put to sleep that summer because of congestive heart failure, and Simon was 14 and fading fast after his companion of the last eight years was gone. We said we were NEVER going to bring home one of the ranch cats, but we fell in love with her over Labor Day weekend. And they we tried to find her to bring her home, and we couldn’t fine her. We looked and looked and called and called and rattled the food bowls and so on and so forth. And then we opened up the hood of my car, and there she was, sleeping on the engine. Apparently she intended to go home with us one way or another.

I like this picture because she looks like a little bulldog. She does have kind of short, stubby legs.

For some reason we don’t have many pictures of her as a kitten, possibly because we were facing up to the fact that Simon was in kidney failure and we had to let him go as well. It was a sad summer/fall that year.

She just marched in and took over the house. She was not afraid of Leo, not one bit, she looked him up and down and give him a hiss if he got too close and interfered with her inspection of things. He, however, was terrified of her.

A rare picture of Simon, Leo and MaryAnne. Simon sitting on heating pad for his old bones. MaryAnne being cute. Leo being disgruntled that he is no longer the cute one.

Current weight: 10.5 pounds, quite a lot less than her 20 pound brother which is probably why they don’t play as much as they could.

Hobbies: watching out the front upstairs window whenever available, snuggling in the crook of Mom’s arm in the morning at about 5:00 a.m.

Bad habits: Getting up on top of the entertainment center.

Likes: sparkle balls, knocking sparkle balls under the washer and dryer, sofa, chairs, etc. Sprawling on her back on the floor with her legs all askew in a very unladylike fashion, sleeping on Dad’s legs, eating/playing with ice chips that Mom drops on the kitchen floor, CHEESE!, butting in when we are trying to play with Leo.

Dislikes: Leo playing too rough, Mom trying to turn off the alarm when snuggling.

Little known facts: there was debate on naming her “Ripper.” Quite often we comment on how appropriate that would have been, after she has been ripping around the house.

Sewing Expo Loot

Woke up Tuesday morning to 4 more inches of snow. We were supposed to have a half inch to an inch and/or “a trace.” As I said, “they can trace my a**. (Ken insisted I put that on the blog.) I was not delighted to trudge through it to my car this morning. At least I didn’t have to shovel it, that is Ken’s area of responsibility. And there is more coming, oh joy! Oh rapture!

I attended the Sewing Expo with my friend Cathy this weekend. With my Color Theory Class in mind, I bought several fabrics that might be good for future projects. And, uh, a few other things.

That is a new cutting board. It is a little too long, but it is trimmable. It is made out of PVC, and smooths out again after you cut on it. This is one thing I wished I had purchased at the last sewing expo, and didn’t, I was glad to see them at this one.

In front of the board is a fabric painting book by Cindy Walter. I really liked her samples at her booth – and hope to take a class from her next time. To the left of the book is a bag of batik scraps to build my collection from SewBatik from Mayville, ND. He had noticed my “SDSU Jackrabbits” shirt, since he was from North Dakota. In front of book are two blue print fabrics from Fabric Junction in Sturgis, SD.  I tried to get the “from SD discount” but it didn’t work.  The blue fabrics are for (maybe) my triad color project which is due next. To the right side of the book are three red fabrics for the same project.

Next to those is my “007 Bonding Agent” kit with a pressing cloth, bonding powder, bonding glue stuff, and iron cleaning sheets. You can do all kinds of good stuff with this – it is kind of an “As seen on TV – demonstration” type product, but I think I will use this on my jeans that need to be patched and on fusible projects.

Then there are some Dy-Na-Flow fabric dyes. I have some ideas for those. I promise I will wear old clothes.

Back to the left side, laying flat on the couch, is a “mini-cakes” cookbook, which I should just probably have as a blog give-away to save myself the calories. I would hate to give away an untested product, however…

Then there is a whole stream of violet, blue, red-violet, blue, orange, yellow….those are all “gradations” fabrics that are dark at the top and really light or a totally different color at the bottom. These will also be excellent for my color class. Again from SewBatik from ND.

In front of the cookbook is a special foot for magically and effortlessly piecing curves. We will see.

Next to that, folded in triangles, are marbled fabrics from Quilters Treasure in New Hampshire. Again, for color class.

And that is a roll of very cute cat fabrics – yes, one of my “fabric collections,” next to a silicone lint roller – again, as seen on TV. We certainly go through enough of the tape ones. Ken, the head cat fur remover in the house, expressed skepticism.

At the very front are two more fabrics, a dogwood print that was just too beautiful, and a strawberry print. I seem to be collecting strawberry prints, now, too. Along with some purple prints, the cat prints, and cupcake prints. And I think there might be one more I forgot.

So, a good time was had by all, and my feet were tired, but I have many raw materials to work with now. I had several people comment on my SDSU Jackrabbits shirt and tell me they were from SD, or ND, or they had attended SDSU. South Dakota is really just one big small town. I love it.

“Just Do It My Way.” “Like I’ve Never Heard That Before.”

The title is a conversation between Ken and I as he resisted following instructions on how to put address labels and stamps on my Christmas letters. Yes, I am a little behind.

My new saying for him, from Anthony Bourdain: “Don’t look at me, you signed on for this cruise, Gilligan.”

Here are some final pictures from the snow. We ended up with about 17 inches according to the yardstick.

You might spend a lot of time playing fetch with your cat if you are snowed in.

After the 1st snowblowing. Friday about 3:00.

We got a few more inches after that.

Like 6 more inches, the driveway is pretty much snowed in again.

Not a good day to be parked outside.

Official measurement?

Snow cliff hanging off the back of the garage.

With icicles.

Well, I guess I would rather have snow than -20°.

Leo says ‘Tsup? I chillin.


Snow day?

Denver is preparing for snowmageddon. There is nothing we like better than a big storm that we can mull over for a few days and get all dramatic about. This one sounds like it may truly BE something, but I always know that I may wake up in the morning and find a miserable dusting of snow rather than the predicted 8 to 22 inches. I am planning on working from home, I don’t care to drive to work in more than 5 inches of snow, spending more time on the road than at the office.

Pictures from Nov 2009 snowstorm (Bird bath. Looks like about 12-13 inches. We could get twice that out of this storm, or half that, who knows.)

I stopped at the grocery store, which is the same idea everyone else had. The only things that were really getting down to bare shelves that I noticed were ice cream and avocados. Oh, and Kroger brand velveeta substitute. I went with the regular Velveeta. Apparently everyone is planning on making guacamole and queso and having ice cream for dessert.

I am planning on making cheeseburger soup and runzas. There was no shortage of green cabbage, and onions were on sale, so good for me.

I asked my checker guy how long this busy-ness had been going on and he said ALL DAY. And then he said he was going to go to Costco after work and buy a very large bottle of wine. And if it didn’t snow that much, he would still have his very large bottle of wine.

Post with Topsy Turvy Tomato planter, and hanging flower basket. And snow.

The parking lot wasn’t terribly full, and I didn’t think the store was packed, but they certainly had a shortage of carts, so the checker asked me to return mine to the store after I took it to the car.

Our neighbors’ grill.

I got milk and bread, of course, isn’t that what you get at the store before a blizzard? And I thought we might be low on eggs, so I got another dozen, but that was a mistake, so now I need to do some baking AND we need to eat some eggs for breakfast. And I have bread, so we can have “soak eggs.” That is what I called eggs over easy until I was in college, I had no idea what to order at a restaurant to get soak eggs. I also might experiment with poaching eggs in my rice cooker. We will see how that goes.

AND I got powdered buttermilk, because I have waffle recipe to try.

Now, if you really want to be snowed in, you want to be at the ranch in SD, because my Mom has enough food there to feed an army for about 6 months or quite possibly more. Assuming the freezers are working. If not, there is beef on the hoof. When the zombie armageddon happens, you know where I am heading. (WordPress does not think armageddon is a word is a word if it isn’t capitalized. I talking just general armageddon, not the biblical one. I don’t think the biblical one has zombies. Well, maybe.)

So unless the big storm veers to the east, it is going to be me and the cats (and maybe even the husband) working from home. Whee! Snow day!

The Nautilus Quilt

I had my color class with the Nautilus Quilt tonight, and it went very well. We were doing analogous colors, which is a run of colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel, but only including 1 primary. So my color run was blue-green, green, yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, seven colors with yellow being the primary among them.

Here is the finished quilt.

The background is a very light yellow green, it doesn’t show up as well as I would like in the picture.

Here is the mama nautilus.

Baby nautilus.

Close up of the tentacles.

It was really interesting, because there were about four of us who did this same color run, and there were four TREMENDOUSLY different quilts. I put mine up and talked about it, and then another student said she used the same colors but she didn’t like hers as well as mine, and so the teacher had her put hers up next to mine. Now, obviously, it didn’t have tentacles, but it was a very nice quilt, the teacher suggested some design things she could do to make it so she would like it better, and then we had two more quilts put up on the wall with the first two, so that was a really cool way to do it.

I got good compliments on the design, the colors and the quilting. This is the most “all me” thing I have made so far, and I really really enjoyed it.

I can’t decide if I should stick to the tentacle theme now. I like making pieces that have something “out of place.” This one was out of place because quilts don’t usually have tentacles. Now, a quilt has tentacles, so I would have to do the next one putting two things together that aren’t usually together.

For example, I put this little (not complete) sketch together this afternoon. I call it “Octopus Eying Birthday Cake.”  This is the sort of thing I enjoy. So perhaps the Triadic Color Scheme project will be an octopus and a cake, or a still life with newt. I will have to think on it a bit.

One thing I noticed (as I was looking in particular at still life paintings from the National Gallery and American Gallery) is that many still life paintings have oysters in them. Why is this? An oyster would be interesting to put on a quilt, too. Of course, many of them also have dead birds and/or fish, but I don’t find that as interesting as oysters. Or newts.