The Day After

So the big meal is over.  We had a great time with our friends and one of the best meals I can remember having in a few years.  Someone brought sweet potato casserole very much like the one my family makes, so I was very happy.  My second batch of dinner rolls turned out beautifully.  I think I am done trying Parker House Rolls; they just never turn out as awesome as they look like they should. The classic dinner rolls came out much better.  I came home with a little turkey and sweet potatoes, so today I think I will make a turkey/sweet potato dumpling.  Egg roll wrappers make this so easy.  A little cranberry sauce mixed with some soy sauce and we have the Thanksgiving version of a Chinese dumpling.  Now the work begins…


Decorating for Christmas.  I have pulled out the storage bins and am looking through the decorations to see what I want to use this year.  I’m trying to get away from the traditionally kitschy decorating and move to more stylish, low key decorations. I am not creative in this area, but I can steal ideas from HGTV. I should take this opportunity to purge my bins of decorations I will probably never use again.  December trips to a Goodwill donation center are doubly good; you get rid of stuff, de-clutter your house and get a tax donation just in time to make the most of it.


I have decided to show the Dicken’s Village this year.  I love the Dicken’s VIllage, but with so many built-ins and the rooms being small to begin with, there is never an optimal spot to display the village.   The cats also love the village.  Alice in particular loves to knock down the trees and village folk and spends a lot of time just sitting in the middle looking like a cat giant.

The Devin/Santa photos from all the various years are on the mantle.  Devin says she will allow one last photo with Santa on her 18th birthday.  (There have been no Santa photos since she was about 7, so don’t think we are one of those odd families…) The Christmas playlist is loaded on the Ipod and the Christmas books are out.  Tomorrow we head up Berthoud Pass to cut a tree down in the Winter Park area.  All the most important ornaments will go on the tree and then we will use others to decorate a garland or maybe place in a glass vase of some sort.  With a little greenery here and there, I think I will be done.

I will then look through every thing else in the Christmas boxes and start filling the donation box so we can make a trip to Goodwill in the next week or so.  I am behind on gift shopping….I am usually done by Thanksgiving, so I will be out and about which I do not look forward to, but at least I can shop in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, which makes it a little easier.  We have a few more food items to make as gifts and I really enjoy that part.  So the season is here.  One good month and then 2015 is making an entrance.  I am hoping for smooth entrance of the new year and just 3 and 1/2 months of no major issues.  Just no repeat of early 2014.  Thanks in advance universe for allowing me that.


The Day Before

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am getting ready to make a pecan pie, parker house rolls and a glaze for the roasted vegetables I will prepare tomorrow.  My whole family is on the road.  My brother is driving from AL to MO and my sisters and mother are driving from OK to MO to all share Thanksgiving with my nephew.  Devin and I will spend the day with the same friends we always share Thanksgiving when we have not travelled to be with family.  We have known this family since our daughters were 1 year old.  It is great to have a place to spend Thanksgiving when you cannot be with blood family but instead with family you have chosen for yourself.

Ever since the first Thanksgiving that I could not travel to be with family, I recognized the gift of the friends Thanksgiving,  Everyone needs a place to go for Thanksgiving and that first year, I was grateful and relieved to have a place to go.  I was single with no children, so I did not want to be by myself.  I now make sure that people I know who are single or with a very small families have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving.  I really love my family and I love our holidays together.  I feared that the friends Thanksgiving could not be as much fun and the family version, but it can be great fun.  The only downside can be two fold: 1) you don’t always get the exact dishes you remember and love from your childhood and 2) you don’t get enough, if any, leftovers!

So this year, I am making a turkey breast, dressing and potatoes on Friday or Sat, so I have all the leftovers I want and I get the family recipe version of them as well.

I have a couple of leftover recipes I want to try.  Dressing waffles topped with turkey, potatoes and either cranberry sauce or gravy…..Yum    The other one is leftover thanksgiving dumplings….egg roll wrappers stuffed with leftovers, baked or pan fried and then a cranberry/soy sauce dipping sauce….another yum.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  I will NOT start shopping for Christmas……I do not need a good deal on some product enough to ruin what should be a treasured holiday meant to be with and celebrate family and friends.  I hate that we now require people to leave their families so the stores can open on Thanksgiving so we can be the conspicuous consumers we have become.  I don’t need that $100 savings enough or my family does not need that TV enough to destroy what has been a beautiful holiday until we decided that shopping was the reason for the season.  I know not everyone has family to be with or that they want to be with and would just as soon work, but it forces other people to work and started a trend that cannot be reversed now.   Consumerism over family, not a fan.

We do sometimes go see a movie that evening, so a little hypocrisy there….someone has to be there so I can see my movie. I will reconsider that this year and think of games my daughter can play with just 2…not as fun as with a bunch of family, but still doable and a better way to spend an evening.


My Favorite Santa

Laura and I both have Santa Collections, though different.  Years ago I decided to try and decorate a tree with only Santa Ornaments because my Mom gave me my favorite ornament from when I was a child.


I was so pleased to get this little guy and he is always the first ornament I hang on the tree every year.  You can’t tell that much from this photo, but he is worn in places and definitely looks old.  I love that part.

So I started collecting Santa ornaments and with collections sometimes, I ended up with some Santas that I did not like that much.  Then my daughter came along and, at first, I tried to continue the Santa theme with her annual ornament.

IMGP6303Nantucket 1998

IMGP6309 NYC 2000 something

But as she got older, I wanted ornaments that reminded us of the year that was just passing, so the Santa theme sort of came to an end so I could get ornaments that would allow us to remember years passed.

IMGP6304   Trip to China in 2007

IMGP6299 4th Grade sailing Trip

IMGP6315 Years of Karate

IMGP6308 Trip to Italy 2004

I still like my Santa ornaments, but I love pulling out the ornaments every year and re-living the memories they are meant to inspire. I love anything the refreshes memories.  I love the ornaments, I love my photographs, I love the antiques and other items in my house that are from my childhood.  I know that my daughter will probably not have the same warm feelings about all of these items that I have kept, but I hope she keeps some of them and that they bring back good memories of her childhood.

They are all getting ready to be pulled out of storage and put on the tree again this year.  I think this year we will go to Winter Park and cut down a Charlie Brown tree with a permit.  I love the Charlie Brown trees because the limbs are so far apart, your ornaments really show, plus it is a fun day of driving to Winter Park, traipsing through the woods to find a tree and then having a pizza lunch at Hernandos.  Another memory in the making….


The Favorite Santa

In 1981 my sister-in-law gave me my first Santa.


The following year my daughter, who was seven years old at the time, wanted to add to my collection – if you can call one Santa a collection.  In November, 1982, we went to her elementary school holiday craft sale.  She found the perfect Santa, that was in her budget and proudly purchased it.


At Christmas that year I opened my gift from her which was a very special Santa for a couple of reasons.  I found out after I opened the gift that she had indeed purchased the Santa that day, but promptly dropped and broke it.  She was heartbroken and headed back to the artist to tell her sad story.  The creator of the Santa was in the holiday spirit and sold her the second Santa for half price. Now, however, she is over her budget because of the extra expense of the second Santa. The above photo is my Santa.

My collection has grown over the years with some very nice and sometimes expensive Santas, but the Santa bought at the elementary school holiday craft sale by my seven-year-old daughter is my favorite and always will be. Seeing the excitement on her face when I opened that special Santa, that she had to sacrifice extra money for, is forever in my memory.

I am still adding to my collection, but nothing will replace this Santa given from the heart from my precious daughter.


And then there is my son.  He decided to begin a collection of holiday treasures that poop candy. Now, he has given me many nice Santas over the years, but he is especially proud of the plastic ones that make obnoxious noises and then poop candy. Isn’t that special?!




I always like to eat seafood when I am in the south.  Actually, I like to eat seafood anywhere, but it is better in some places than others.  While I was visiting my brother in Montgomery, Alabama, I requested eating some fish.  He had just the place in mind.  As we were driving there I could see we kept getting further away from the city and more into the industrial area.  We passed the metal recycling place, a trash dump, several abandoned houses, and I was getting nervous.  When we turned into the place where the restaurant was located, I was surprised to say the least.  Had I not been with someone who was familiar with the Capitol Oyster Bar, I would have made a big U turn and been outta there. It is a dive, and there is just no other way to describe it.  But, when we went inside, the place fascinated me.  I was immediately drawn into its ambiance.  It was not that is was beautiful or even modern.  The place had an energy that was palpable. As we walked in, there were a couple of fellows working a big sink full of snow crab – yum! We sat inside because it was cold, but there was an outdoor balcony that overlooked a very old and very underused marina.  Some of the boats looked deserted. The server was the nicest southern gal and she gave us our placemats that were also the menu. The bar looked like it was made from an old wooden fishing boat.  I ordered the Swai dinner and it was worlds more than I could eat, but man was it good.  John ordered one of the specials, grouper cheeks.  He nor I had ever heard of that, but it was delicious.  Also, the best coleslaw – not the creamy kind, and hush puppies. Every Sunday night they have a music performer of some renown, and I am guessing that is a fun place to be.  They even have a print out of the performers who are scheduled for the month.  The server told us they have people sharing chairs on some Sunday nights. What a fun place!  Oyster Bar Menu Oyster Bar Capitol Oyster Bar DSC_1772 DSC_1792 DSC_1791 DSC_1784 DSC_1783 DSC_1778 DSC_1777


An Evening with a Friend

So, it is about 20 degrees here and it has been snowing all day.  I have yet to get out of my pajamas.  I did finally get everything out of the dining room because a friend invited me to the “red carpet” opening of the a Denver Film Festival film and so I invited her to dinner here first.

I love a reason to finally get something accomplished that I have stalled and procrastinated with.  So today, I was forced to find a home for everything in the dining room that was put there when the kitchen was painted.  It felt good to get that room back.  I now have the table set for Cream of Asparagus soup, a great loaf of bread with garlic I am roasting and the Basil Infused Olive Oil that Laura and I bought during an olive oil tasting while in Napa, plus some of the Domaine Chandon bubbly we had shipped home.  Fortunately, I could spend the day cleaning and de-cluttering because I made the soup a week or so ago and froze it for a day like today.  My daughter does not like this particular soup, so this is the perfect night to use it.

IMGP8974 IMGP8976 IMGP8980

I am just very pleased with the clean house and the evening ahead.  It will be a nice, warm dinner with a good friend followed by The Imitation Game about the man who cracked the code used by the Germans in World War 2.  These kind of spontaneous get-togethers make me happy.  I love having my friends over and wish I did it more often, but sadly, my house is almost always in some sort of disarray and all of my friends’ houses always appear to be in perfect condition.

But for now, the kitchen is clean, a cool new sign hangs on the wall that I found just yesterday on Antique Row, dinner was made ahead of time, the dining room is clear of clutter and looks welcoming and I have a nice evening ahead.  I am going to need to bundle and layer up, but am still looking forward to it.



The Sisters’ Project 2.0

So last year as I walked into a Home Depot, an idea came to me about how Laura and I could work on our photography.  We would take at least one photo every day for a year and post one and only one photo from every day onto Flickr accounts that only she and I could see.  We started on November 1, 2013 and started taking photographs every day and then posting one of them to the Flickr account.  Initially we were very good about taking the photo for each day and posting it the same day, but as time passed, we would get a few days behind on posting, but still had to take at least one photo every day.  Some days were very challenging and given that it was fall/winter, we were stuck in our homes looking for something to take a picture of.  There were a lot of holiday themed photos.  My daughter would laugh at me wondering around the house at 9:30pm looking for something to take a photo of.  Some of those photos had the look and feel of desperation, but some of them proved to be a great exercise in really finding creativity.

Over the 12 months we committed to this project, we tweaked the rules a little.  After probably 3 months of “photo every day”, we started to add themes or exercises to each week.  We worked with color, motion, textures and patterns, water, etc., in order to 1) give us something to focus on so we weren’t walking around aimlessly looking for a shot and 2) to force us to think about what would represent the theme well and how to work with our camera to capture a shot.  We had some weeks that we got behind and then made new rules for how to get caught up, but we ended the year-long project on October 31st of this year with 365 photos in our Flickr Daily Photo Album.  I am really proud of how we stayed committed and stuck with the project for a full 365 days.  I learned a lot about my camera, I learned a lot about how to find an interesting photo; it was a good project and I am glad I had a sister who was willing to go along with the idea.

At the end of that first year’s project, we decided to also start this blog as a way of continuing with our photography, but expanding it to our other areas of interest that would add some variety to what we think about every day.  I love the blog so far.  We do not have any rules, we just blog whenever the moment hits us and we can post photos as well as other content.

However, we are supposed to be starting another year-long project centered on photography and I am finding it hard to get motivated to start.  I need a fresh idea, I need inspiration, I need something to get me going.  I am considering asking Laura if we should take a 2 month break and start the year on Jan 1.  I need a creative breakthrough, I have photographer’s block. I’m tired of my house, I’m tired of my yard, I need a new perspective…Send help!

The great thing about photography is that I can see Laura and I continuing with it for many, many years to come.  We plan on traveling together just so we can take photographs that we have time to plan and think about and work until we get a perfect photo.  Non-photographers do NOT want to travel with you when you slow down for every possible photo and thus the photographer never really gets to work with their camera, the setting and the light to get that really awesome shot. I look forward to trips when we just park ourselves in a place that we will make a thorough photographic study of.

Now if creative inspiration would just float down and settle into the right side of my brain so I could get going on the current project….



I have been practicing trying to live in the moment.  You know, just embrace and appreciate what is going on right this minute.  Then I drove 816 miles.  Along the I-40 corridor east toward Memphis, the highway is bumper to bumper 18 wheelers.  I get it, they are supplying us with most of our necessities.  Driving along with those huge tractor trailers is not my idea of a relaxing ride, but I can tolerate it because I am selfish, and I want the supplies they are carrying.  But, traveling the highway with people who insist on driving in the passing lane is a different matter completely.  How can those drivers not realize what a nuisance they are?! It is rude and unnecessary.  There is a lane for them, it is called “slower drivers stay right.” Oblivious to that sign, can they not read my car moving in behind them and urging them along. So, I get myself all worked up and before I can control myself I am breathing hard, pursing my lips, talking to them even though they cannot hear me. I ask them, “can you not see me, do you not know you are supposed to pass and then move over.” I am all for living in the moment and enjoying the here and now.  I just need that to begin after I have passed those drivers who hog the left passing lane.


Weather, it is a changin…

OK, so in the 60s this weekend and today, Tuesday, it is 14 degrees.  If it is possible, it feels even colder than that.

IMGP8965This photo is steam coming off the Smith Lake at Wash Park Boat House.

I came home yesterday and made a quick batch of chili…so good on a chili evening.  Complete with cheese, sour cream, avocado and fritos….yummy!!

I do love that I live in a place where we get all 4 seasons and all of them have their best sides, but it does take me awhile to get used to late fall and winter here in CO.  I hate that it gets dark at 4:45pm.  The day just feels over on the ride home from work.  I have one window that is not stormed because it has our cats’ patio attached to it.  It is not energy efficient in the winter and it happens to be in my bedroom.  I hate seeing it form ice on really cold days.

So I guess I need to officially put the summer stuff away, get the winter stuff out and hang the coats, scarves and gloves by the door.  I found my base layer stuff this morning, wore it and was still cold if outside for more than a few minutes.  The gas fireplace is on high, the tea kettle has water ready to go, the heated mattress pads are on the beds.  We are warm and cozy at home, blessed, grateful and aware of it.


Speaking of Sisters and Brothers

My sister is on the road today to get to where my brother lives because he had quintiple by-pass surgery on Wednesday.  That’s what sisters are for….  John lives in Alabama and does not have family close, so Laura is making a 2 day drive in order to be there when he will get released from the hospital.  He then has to spend a week at home. Laura did not want him to be alone when he got home or for those recovery days.  She is going to keep him company and make some meals for now and later.


The surgery went well and he is expected to fully recover, but the doctor said the blockage in his arteries was so bad that had he had a heart attack, he would not have lived to hit the pavement.  Thank God he paid attention to the little signs his body gave him and took himself to the clinic which then turned into a trip to the emergency room which then turned into his being admitted on that day for surgery on Wednesday.

Genetically, we are all not so blessed with terrible cholesterol, so even with good diets, we would still be susceptible to plaque and blocked arteries.  So most of us are now working on getting stress tests to see where we stand on the health of our arteries.  John’s heart itself is healthy so its was a blessing that this condition was discovered and will be surgically corrected.  I want to be here when my daughter starts a career, starts a family.  I want to know my grandchildren, should I get any, so I will now pay attention to this and find out how my arteries look.

We are a close family, not without our issues and differences, but in the end, we are close and we love each other.  We stay in frequent contact and we see each other at least once a year if not more often.  It always surprises me when I hear about siblings who have not seen each other in years and elderly parents who do not have children that visit often.  We are aware of how awesome our family is and are even close with most of our aunts, uncles and cousins.  Laura has to miss my cousin’s son’s wedding in Dallas to be with John.  Sorry about that Sharon and Brenden…… It is good to have family.  Safe travels Laura, thinking of you John.