Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Snowy Neighborhood Walk

After spending yesterday morning lazying around eating pancakes, doing some quilting, and working  on the computer, a bit of exercise was in order.  When I found that Ben had done all the shoveling (thank you, Ben!) I suggested a walk around the neighborhood, specifically up to Chautauqua to see the lovely Flatirons in the snow.  

  The final total for Boulder was 16 inches.   Such a deep snow can really transform the landscape.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


The snow started yesterday and dropped about six inches before nightfall.  After-school activities were cancelled and meteorologists promised heavy snow during the coming night. When we awoke there was indeed quite a bit of snow on the ground and it was still coming down. 

I was relieved when we got the texts and emails alerting us that the school system was shut down for the day, as were the city offices and the University. This is the second time since we moved here that schools have closed due to snow and both times have been in this school year.  It is very unusual.  

In our house a snow day means pancakes. But Paul didn't want our regular pancakes.  He announced that they were "too white" and "didn't taste good."  This was a bit annoying to hear but I remembered that I was doing the Love One Another challenge. Day one was to "Show patience with someone" and day two was to "Overlook someone's shortcomings" so I summoned up my energy and listened to what Paul was trying to tell me and then helped him get the pancakes he wanted: large, from scratch and very well done. 

We found a video which showed how to make great pancakes from this recipe and Paul went to town mixing up the batter and cooking the cakes to his exact specifications. 

Instead of using a griddle like I've done for years the video showed a non stick frying pan, so we hunted one up and Paul greased it with a pat of butter before adding each ladle of batter.  He turned the heat way up so his cakes would be quite browned.  It got so hot that I could hardly watch him cook and I warned him that the pan would catch on fire, but of course I was wrong and it didn't, yet again proving that Mom doesn't always know what's right.    

Paul wanted large pancakes so he cooked his at least six inches across.  He topped each cake with lots of chocolate chips and set them in the oven to remain warm as he finished his cooking.  Finally he sat down to eat all the cakes at once and he was one happy boy. So happy he even let me take his picture. 

Once he was done cooking I mixed up a batch for me and Ben to share. I assure you that ours were cooked to a nice golden brown; no well done ones for us, thank you. But I have to tell you that they were the best pancakes I may have ever eaten!  Golden brown and crisp around the edges and light and fluffy in the middle with a very good flavor. The perfect breakfast for our snow day.  

The snow has stopped now and the sun is shining in that great way that the Boulder sun has. "Get outside" it calls and I think I'll go out and do some shoveling on this lovely afternoon.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Off to a Slow but Great Start

Ben woke up this morning to find that he was pinned down by Fetcher. 

This made Ben smile.  Ben is quite smitten by Fetcher.

What a nice kitty. 

Umm....that feels good.

A little higher, please.

Finally Ben told Fetcher it was time to go.  Sorry, kitty. 

It took a bit of nudging to get him to move.

When we finally got downstairs we had a tasty breakfast of grilled scallops wrapped in bacon and endive and apple salad.   

Not a bad start to the day. The sun is shining, we have a hike scheduled, I have some quilting to do, and this evening we're going out to a special dinner to celebrate our friend Paula's birthday.  

And if that wasn't enough to put me in a good mood, there's a forecast for a decent snowfall come Monday!    

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Caohagan Island Quilts

Isn't this a happy quilt to look at?  It makes me smile.

This type of quilt is made by people on the small and remote Caohagan Island  in the Philippines.   Quiltmaking was introduced to the island twenty years ago and now flourishes as an income producing and community building activity.  Today about 100 of the island's 600 residents participate in making quilts which are sold primarily in Japan but increasingly in the United States.  Half the profits go to the individual quilter while the other half goes to the communal Quilt House to buy fabric and other supplies, train quilters, and to improve life on the island.  The sale of the quilts has greatly improved the island's standard of living.    

The National Quilt Museum had an exhibition of Caohagan Island quilts this summer and my local quilt guild invited Dan Jones, author Small Miracle of a Southern Island: The Quilts and Quiltmakers of Caohagan Island to speak to the group about the exhibit and her research on the island.   There was also a display of quilts for sale.

Caohagan Island quilts are made by hand and feature applique work, where images are made and then sewn to the quilt top.   This little fish, for instance, was pieced by hand and will be sewn by hand to the quilt.   Even with the edges still raw (not yet turned under and sewn down to the quilt top) he's mighty cute.   The shapes used to make the fish are all free cut by hand, meaning that the shapes weren't drawn and then cut, they were just cut.   The islanders don't use glue to turn under the edges and to hold the shapes together, practices which are common in modern quilting.

When I got home I tried my hand at making a little fish.  I found I couldn't free cut my shapes and I certainly wasn't going to piece them together by hand.  But I was able to make a fun little fellow and I'm enjoying having him on my design wall for a few days.

Caohagan Island quilts run from $400 to $100 depending on the size and are sold through the Caohagan online store.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Around Here

Our snow is about gone, though there is plenty of it in places where the sun doesn't reach, like the north banks of the Boulder Creek.   The creek has been particularly lovely these past weeks. 

We are watching with interest the approach of the blizzard that will hit our old stomping grounds back east with one to two feet of snow.  It's made us a bit jealous.  We loved big snows in Maryland, feeling all snuggled up in our little country home, warm and cozy by the fireplace while the wind howled outside and the snow fell deeper and deeper.  When I asked Ben why he felt nostalgic about those infrequent "snow-ins" he said "Pancakes!"  Well, we sure did eat well during those storms, with pancakes, homemade bread, cassoulets, lots of good wine....hmm, yum.  

Here's a collage from our last big storm in Maryland, way back in February 2010.  

It's not the same here since we don't have that same sense of isolation when it snows.  Last year we had a foot of snow in November and the street outside our house was abuzz with people walking, skiing, pulling kids in sleds, and even running.  When it snows here there is plenty of activity and no reason at all for us to feel cocooned in the house since we can walk to all kinds of stores and restaurants, as well as drive there if you're brave enough (Ben is; I'm not).   I like all that just fine; it's just different.

Remember this quilt I was working on?  I got finished enough to show to my little art quilt group and then let it rest on the design wall while I thought about how to border it using the brown and brick colored fabrics to the right and bottom of the quilt.   

Yesterday morning I decided it needed to be rotated and enlarged.  Here it is turned; today I'll buy more fabric so I can add another couple of rows on the left side.   These quilts can be so bossy! 

My art quilt group discussed our individual goals for the new year and I decided to work on improving my machine quilting.  I thought about taking some classes available through the local shops, but decided instead to join Leah Day's online year-long  Machine Quilting Block Party through which she teaches free motion quilting using a block of the month structure and online videos and lessons.   Loved the happy colors of this month's "Sunshine Surprise" block and had a lot of fun making it.

When a friend told me she had signed up for a class on how to use her new iPhone 6s I decided to join her.  I've had mine for several months now and am certainly no newcomer to iPhones, but I still learned several new tricks and plan to sign up for a session on iPhone photography.

Did you know that WWI German submarines only carried seven torpedos?  Just one of the many things I learned from Erik Larson's book on the sinking of the Lusitania.  I was slow to get into it but hung in there since it was highly recommended by friends.  I'm glad I did because it turned out to be very interesting and readable.

We had another accident!  This time some unknown person hit my car while I had it parked in front of the house the other night.  They didn't leave a note so I'm stuck with the bill.  It doesn't look like much but that dent is costing $1,000 to repair!  That will teach me to park my car in the garage or driveway where it's safer.

Well, that is too sad a picture to leave you with, so let me end with this one instead; a lovely big blue heron we spotted by the Boulder Creek last week.  Isn't he a beauty?  I was surprised to see it since we associate it with Maryland waterways, not Western mountains.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Sign of Hope

I was shocked in a happy way to see this sight in Paul's bedroom this morning. 

He made his bed!

Just when you are about to throw up your hands and give up hope of ever civilizing your child they go and do something like this, all on their own without any reminding from you.  

AND although his alarm "didn't go off" he managed to get up for school and out the door on time without any drama.  

It does give one hope. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Windy Winter Hike

It was incredibly windy yesterday, so windy that the garbage and recycling cans that were put out on the curb in the morning had blown out in the middle of the street within hours, leaving a trail of paper and trash behind them.  What a mess.

It was windy enough in our neighborhood but as Ben and I hiked the half a mile up to Chautauqua Park the force of the wind kept increasing. 

As we traversed the diagonal trail up and across the park we had to really push against the wind.  Hiking uphill against a strong headwind isn't one of my favorite things though Ben was in his element, urging me onward with exclamations of "Isn't it wonderful?!" to which I did not reply. 
When we made it most of the way up the trail turned into the wind and was so strong that it blew my baseball cap right off my head even though I made sure it was securely fastened.  I raced to catch it but lost track of it and I sadly figured that my favorite hat was now gone forever. But Ben, my hero, didn't give up and did finally find it quite a ways off the trail. I was glad since I haven't found another hat quite like it and we have made many memories together, me and that hat. 
We resumed our hike and reached the high point, after which the trail turned downwards. I always love that part of the hike, when the hard uphill is over and it's downhill all the way home.  But we weren't out of the woods yet, so to speak, since we ran into mud. 

Did I say that the trail was snow packed with several stretches of ice?  Probably I didn't, since that's just what is expected on the trails right now.  But we didn't expect mud.  Usually you get mud when the weather warms and everything has melted and it was still cold yesterday.
Oh, yuck! 


Here we go!

Although this was just a short stretch of mud it caked my shoes and cleats so much that I had to scape it off before I could continue the hike. 

See the pole on the right?  That and the cleats are the secret to hiking in snow, ice, and mud.

The funny thing about the wind and the snow and the ice and the mud is that despite it all we still had a great hike.  See how sunny it was?  Beautiful sunshine makes hiking a pleasure in the winter. 

 Check out the big smiles on Ben and Mary!