September 2009

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Family Snapshots

As per usual on a whirlwind trip to Denver, we spend a lot of time with the family and take many photos, too, though not enough – we didn’t get a single one of the hubster’s parents, my cousin Steph, Angela (who also cut my hair while I was there), brother Aaron, Uncle Phil, Brad, or Aunt Mari – sigh.  Anyhoo, these are my maternal grandparents, Marv and Tess (they look so serious – but I assure you, we laughed a lot!).  If you recall, Greg and I drove them to New Mexico last year to visit Grandpa’s sister Shirley.  It is always a pleasure to stay with them, much like the sleep overs I had when I was a kid.  Grandpa made his famous silver dollar pancakes (yummy) and we all chatted and ate, watched television (they are major sports fans), solved puzzles, and I hunted things down in the service room.  They also let me borrow their car, which was so nice!

My cousin Allison and her adorable girls Andee, Emmeri, and Rylnn (I hope I spelled them all correctly).  Though she is a married adult with a fine home, my mind can’t seem to get think of her as anything but my little cousin.  Weren’t we just playing Barbies and reading Little House on the Prairie books?  Oh wait, that was just me and her kids.  I digress!

We’re at my cousin Brad’s lovely house now.  He’s showing off some of the peppers grown in backyard garden.  This was a tiny portion of the abundance.

Daddy and Mom – they are still a cute couple after forty-one years of marriage, I must say.

My brother Chris eating his cheesecake.  We spent the afternoon together romping around the Highland Neighborhood and stopped at a rather quaint cheese shop for a little sustenance for the evening’s festivities.  We were happily discussing the merits of cultured milk when the cute saleswoman said, “You’ve got to be brother and sister, right?”  I guess it’s pretty obvious, even when it isn’t to us.  After I took this photo, he teased, “You got one picture of me, and I’m alone eating cake!”  Yep!  At least he wasn’t in the corner swilling wine from the bottle.

This is pretty neat, nearly the whole gang, save me taking photos and Chris eating cake, singing at the player piano (the original karaoke).  Brad inherited it from his mother, my Dad’s sister Bev, when she died, gosh, I think it was five years ago.  Unfortunately, or maybe not, it isn’t electrified, so you have to pump with your feet as you play.  As it is also quite old, the baffles aren’t what they used to be, so it is a serious job to keep it going.  My cousin sang his heart out while his feet were getting physical, physical!  It was a sweet time for all of us, singing a wild assortment of fun tunes from the past, “The Rose” and “The Rainbow Connection” being my favorites.

Our happy hosts, Brad and his sweet partner Jeff, who is a terrific cook.  We had delicious flank steak, spinach salad, and scrumptious risotto, thanks to his mad skills in the kitchen.  I must also note the importance of the background here.  My aunt Bev was a bit eccentric.  She spun her own wool, even collecting cat hair from hither and yon to make it extra soft.  She also served rattlesnake for dinner, rode a motorcycle, mixed nail polish into wild new colors, and, as you can see, macrame-d her heart out.  This is just one of the examples, also taken from their Casper, Wyoming home after she died.  It is floor to ceiling and incorporates a hodgepodge of ephemera important, or, perhaps, just useful, to her at the time.  It is quintessentially Bev and a treasure of a memory to have on the wall.

By the by – this is post 250!  As the Grateful Dead sing so well, “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”  Thanks for reading, my friends.

I’ve got good news friends!  I am back in the world of exercise!  Yay!  And I’m not afraid to show my enthusiasm via exclamation points!  There’s four in a row, eek.  Okay, I’m calm now.  Yes, today was the first day I ventured back to the community center to work out with weights and attend my favorite Nia class, not to mention seeing my old work out pals – so very nice.  After being reassured by my doctor yesterday that I would not hurt myself if I was sensible and listened to my body, I was raring to go.  I halved my pre-surgery workout before Nia and felt really good, certainly a bit weaker, but nine weeks without it will do that.  Unfortunately, Nia class was canceled, so I went ahead with the Cardio Pilates they substituted.  It’s certainly no Nia, but it was fine in it’s own right.  I was able to keep up the pace without feeling like I was going to die and had a good time, too.  Major progress while I inch back to a new normal.  Phew!

In other news, here are more photos snapped while in Colorado, more specifically, Boulder and, even better, while the G-Man was still with me.  It was a beautiful afternoon on the Pearl Street Mall.

Though there aren’t many in the photos, there were lots of people on hand, the diverse mix that is ever so Boulder.  Pictured above is one of our favorite Mexican restaurants ever, Juanita’s, at the west end, beyond the majority of the chaos.  We haven’t been in a while and didn’t even go that day, as I had a hankering for Pad Kee Mao, but it does look just the same.  There is always comfort in that.

We also walked the neighborhood surrounding Pearl for a bit and encountered this lovely wall.  I am a sucker for fine masonry and this handsome fella.

This church is no longer a church but either residences or an architecture firm.   My memory fails to recall which.   I love when buildings that have outlived their use aren’t torn down, especially when they are this pretty.  This reminds me, there was a church on the Auraria Campus in Denver that was converted into an art gallery.  I used to love to visit it.  Having a great reverence for art, it was magnified in such a special space.

Away we go – I snapped this as we were driving back to Denver.  Bye, bye Boulder, see you next time!

Happy Saturday, everyone!

We bought some rather fabulous looking local peaches at the market this week – big perfectly shaped, and oh, the scent, heavenly.  The problem?  Mealy as all get out.  I took one bite and felt such a wave of sadness that something so pretty and sweet smelling could be so icky.  However, with a bit of baking experience under my belt, I knew there was potential for them.  Here it is – clafoutis.  Creamy and custardy, like a soft pancake, though with a slight crunch of a crust on top, and a snap to make, too.  I forget how easy they are, and much prettier than a stack of pancakes, too.

I took the best of a recipe from Richard Sax and another from David Lebovitz to suit my quite particular tastes and it was perfectly delicious.  You can use peaches, apricots, cherries, berries, plums, or a combination.  It’s really hard to go wrong.  Also, if you can, get up before the hubster (or the kids) and make it for breakfast, like I did.  The sleepy smile plastered on his face and delight at the first bite is well worth the time and effort.

I also gilded the lily and made a peach sauce with the remaining fruit.  I used the recipe included with my pancakes.  Actually, I very nearly called this post, “How About Orange?” in homage to a rather snazzy blog and the fact that we had peach clafoutis, peach sauce, and charentais melon for breakfast – a rather monochromatic but happy coincidence!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 pound firm, ripe plums, peaches, apricots, sliced OR 2 cups berries or cherries (pitted) OR a combination

3 eggs

1/2 cup flour (I like using 1/4 cup whole wheat and 1/4 cup all purpose)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon brandy (optional, but very good, especially with peaches)

1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

1 1/4 cups milk (2% or whole milk give the best flavor and texture)

Position your baking rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 375.  Liberally butter the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 inch gratin dish or pie pan.  Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth.  Whisk in the butter and flour until smooth, add vanilla and brandy (if using).  Whisk in the 1/4 cup sugar, then the milk.

Pour the custard mixture over the fruit (be gentle about it so you don’t disrupt the prettiness you’ve made).  Bake for 30 minutes.

Gently slide out the rack the clafoutis is resting on so you don’t disturb the crust that is forming.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue baking for about 30 more minutes.  It will be slightly firm in the center and the top will be a gorgeous golden brown.  Serve right away or warm.  It will deflate a bit, so snap your photos quickly (hopefully you’ll have better light than I did today).



I don’t tend to be an envious person.  I know I’ve got it pretty darn good, but sometimes, as I am positively human, and therefore absolutely imperfect, my little green monster rears its tiny head.  And so it did during Julie and Julia, an utterly delightful Sunday afternoon movie, if ever there was one.

The film follows Julie Powell, a rather mousy Amy Adams, as she flounders at a considerably depressing and highly unsatisfactory job.  All of her friends are wildly successful, with assistants, lots of money, and the like, while she can’t seem to get it together.   Save for her saint of a husband and her love of cooking, she’d be one unhappy camper.

Enter Julia Child, played by the incomparable Meryl Streep (seriously, what can’t she do?), and the seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Julie decides to make, as well as blog about, all of the 524 recipes in the span of one year.  365 days.  A whole lot of cooking.

In the mean time, dear Julia is furthering her exquisite love of butter and eating, in general, while she flounders a bit herself.  What is she to DO with her life now that she is no longer a spy?  Okay,  maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but she did work for the OSS in China for Pete’s sake.   I digress a bit here, as the thought of this makes me chuckle – the six foot two inch gregarious woman in China?  I don’t suppose they were looking for someone inconspicuous, were they?

Anyway, I watched with rapt attention as Julie and Julia struggle, in their own ways, to find fulfillment and happiness, their days chockablock with writing, perfecting recipes, and, of course, eating.  Not to mention their fantastically supportive husbands, kind, patient, loving, and sexy, too.   Though they aren’t without their troubles, either: failed recipes, complicated relationships, trouble at work, and infertility among them.

And this is where I circle back to me.  Me, me, me.  It is my blog, after all.  I could not help but identify with these women as they struggled to find someone to take an interest in their work, to share their passion, and, ultimately, to one day be published, to feel as though their time and sincere effort had not been lost or wasted.

I count myself in their fine company knowing that, first and foremost, the work is for the person doing it.  Just as Julie and Julia cooked and wrote to save themselves from despair and boredom, I write to express my love for life and this wondrous third planet from the sun.  Then, like them, it is my great hope that others will find my work and be inspired or tickled or perplexed by it and keep coming back for more.

But where they found success in the form of published works, television shows, and movies, I have yet to do.  This is where I turn a slightly green hue, where I cry just a little bit and feel sorry for myself.  Don’t fret, however, as it doesn’t last terribly long, for like the movie and these fine women in real life, I know good things are on their way and the music will turn from maudlin to cheery, and I will be reminded that life truly is sublime.


A light heart lives long.

Shakespeare –  Love’s Labour’s Lost

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