30 December 2013

Happy New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve!

I am so happy to report that we have returned to Colorado and had zero problems along the way.

Well, I take that back.  We stopped for gas on the return and then the check engine light came on. On the HUMMER! Not on my stupid car.

Man, I was feeling jinxed.

We KNOW that can mean the gas cap isn't on tight. I tightened the gas cap. Belle got out and tightened the gas cap. We drove a block, got out and tightened the gas cap again.

The "check engine" light was still on.

Fortunately the Hummer has Onstar so we called them and they did a diagnostic. "The engine is misfiring. Go to the dealer within 7 days."


We drove another 276 miles with the check engine light on and then stopped for gas.

Guess what?

Yep, that light went off.

Ok, so was the engine misfiring? Or was Onstar just full of it?


After 2000 miles, a million stops because apparently Bunny cannot go more than 30 minutes without eating, two hotel stays, no sit down meals because Belle does NOT want to waste time sitting and eating and one scary clown driving behind us..we are back in Colorado.

And I am NEVER doing that drive again. It is too long. Too boring. Too too.

I will sell my car. Put Carlos on the bus. Move to a city closer to Colorado.  But nope. Not doing that drive again.

Sorry Houston family and friends. Not happening.

But here we are.
Happy New Year's Eve eve.

24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Here's to:

A very, very, merry Christmas. 

Followed by a silent night. 


23 December 2013

Hmmmm....No. 28 and the new "kitty"

Before I left Colorado for Texas on Thursday, I checked our game camera.

Look who was on there!

I also slipped on some ice.  
But I was okay.

Then we got into the car and drove to Amarillo.

Somewhere along the way I realized my right arm wasn't really working.

The nice ER doc gave me this beautifully wrapped present:

So once I saw the new kitty, I decided it was time to really work on No. 28:  Learn to Shoot a Gun.
But with my right arm wrapped up tight, that will have to wait. 

We'll just be careful.

O! I also woke up with the flu on Sunday. 

And there is no tree and very few presents.

But ...I believe.

In miracles. 
In the Christmas spirit.

Do you?

And while I'm a big believer...until the holidays are over.... Posts may be few and far between. 
Typing on an iPad left handed is wearing. 

17 December 2013

A wish list gift list.

My Little (Personal) Gift List

Since EVERY blog has "Holiday Gift Ideas" or "Stylish Gift Ideas" or "Unique Gift Ideas" I thought I would throw out my own little list.

Because 'tis the season.

And I LOVE presents. And surprises. 
To give and to get.

Gifties ready for the tree.
Wonder if there will be a tree up when I get home?
Shall we take bets? 

But you know what? I'm a little tired of all the-dare I say it?-commercialism.

So here is my list. It's pretty short. 

1) Experiences


Tickets. Tickets to anywhere. 
To a play. A concert. The museum.  A Monster truck rally. A cooking class. Paris.

Paris. City of Light. 
Photo courtesy of my friend Cherrilla who is spending her holidays there.
Lucky duck.

And if you don't want to buy tickets, make a plan. 
There are so many wonderful places to go and see and enjoy. 
All it requires is a willingness to get out of the same ol', same ol'. 

One of the most favorite things I've done recently is go to Bishop Castle. Admission is free with donations requested. So half a tank of gas and a $20 donation procured an afternoon of amazement for three of us. Not even a ticket required. Just the desire  to go do something different. 

Bishop Castle.
So intriguing I've been twice.

A study from Grown and Flown backs me up on this. When asked what was worth spending money on, one of the top replies was "experiences". We may not remember that scarf and mitten set but we do remember the dinner with friends, the trip to the beach, or the tour through the castle. 

So if you are wracking your brain for the perfect thing for that perfect someone, think "experience".

You're welcome. 

16 December 2013

Wanted: Miniature Sleigh and Eight Tiny Reindeer.

Looking for alternative modes of transportation.

If you have been a reader of this blog for a bit you know that our adventure to Colorado started with  a bang.
A really Big Bang. 
Like the kind of Big Bang you get when the car is struck by lightning.
(You can read about it here.)

A reenactment of the night of August 10.

But we got past that. 
The baby Hummer got fixed and it only took six weeks.

Then my car presented a "check engine" light. 
That car is only 16 months old.

It spent a day, then two weeks at the dealer before it was pronounced cured.
While I had the loaner, this happened.

You would think with a gash this big, I would have noticed when it happened.
For all I know, it came from the dealer this way.

Don't know how or why. 

Also, the battery on the Hummer died. (I might have left a door ajar while we were gone for the weekend. Maybe.)  YouTube and the jumper cables saved the day there.

One of the many things I have learned from YouTube- 
how to jump start the car.

Two weeks of driving my own car and the light returned.

Back to the dealer. Been there for ten days now. 

In the meantime, I have a loaner. 
In ten days I have had to put air in the loaner tires three times. I refuse to do more. 

I've also gotten up close and personal with a snow bank.

And today I got a  call that there's something the matter with the keys and starter but that isn't why the "check engine" light comes on. After ten days of testing with the results being sent daily to the technicians and engineers in Germany,  they have decided the problem is...wait for it....the oil is too heavy. 
Somehow I don't believe that. 

But whatever.

I bring all of this up because we are supposed to drive 2000 miles in the next ten days.
With teenagers (including one with a permit that wants to do some driving).
And a large dog. 
And I'm not even sure which car I'll be taking on this drive. 

Should I be hesitant? Concerned? My luck with cars has not been that great.

In the past 18 weeks I have had a loaner of some sort for 10 of those weeks. More than half of the time  that I have been here I've been dealing with some kind of car problem or another. 

Cross your fingers and say a little prayer for us. 

14 December 2013


Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 58th birthday.


I could wail and gnash my teeth about the fact that I am one step closer to 60 or one step closer to the grave or whatever….

but instead I think I will just enjoy the day.

I suggest you do the same.

Happy 11 days before Christmas.

Happy day.



(And we can only hope the birthday fairy brings me some highlights for those roots….)

11 December 2013

It's a Dream Come True....

It's a Dream Come True....Castles Everywhere

  1. 1.
    a large building or group of buildings fortified against attack with thick walls, battlements, towers, and in many cases a moat.

Who knew Colorado had so many castles? Certainly not me.

I've mentioned before, when Belle was little all she wanted to be was Cinderella. She had the entire Golden Book of Cinderella memorized word for word before the age of three. Honest. That girl can memorize. The joys of dyslexia.   She wore out three Cinderella costumes before the age of eight and her favorite saying was "It's a dream come true."


And every little girl wants to live in a castle.
They're cool.

Besides, the plethora of reality shows would not exist if we didn't love peering into other people's lives. Especially the lives of people who are wealthier and more important/famous than we are.   (Although wealth and importance are relative and usually not what Reality TV would like us to believe.)

So back in October I went to a wedding in a castle. In Colorado.
Dunafon Castle.
It was built as a private home but it does have a moat so it is fortified and truly qualifies as a real castle.
Here are a few pics from that visit- it was gorgeous:

A photo from their website

 This castle even has gargoyles!

The moat and a gazebo- so beautiful.

Stone walls, arched windows, what's not to love? 

Then  a week later I went to Bishop Castle. It was also built as a private home and has the beginnings of a moat and truly qualifies as a castle in progress. It is also the largest ONE MAN project around. And it is amazing...although in a totally different way than Dunafon Castle.
And here are some pics from that visit:

 Amazing, huh? One man built this.
By himself.

 Ironwork walkways connecting the turrets.

It even has a fire breathing dragon

And last week I went to Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs.   This was also built as a private home but was never "fortified" so I think it might be considered a castle-wanna-be. But still it is a beautiful and large historical building.

Miramont Castle.
(Translates to "Look at the mountain" in English)

The rooms were interesting and it made me sad to realize you just don't see that quality of woodworking anymore. Lovely details were everywhere.
The period furniture had details that we can only dream of, never to be found at Ikea or Pier One.

Beautiful Moorish windows.
Fr. Jean Baptiste Francolon, the builder, was 
all over the place when it came to design inspiration.

Me and my friend, Diana, in front of one of the many
beautifully decorated trees. 
It was her idea to go.
Many of the rooms had more than four sides-
this one had eight. 
Again, all over the place in design inspiration.

But the most interesting part of the castle to me was the servant's quarters.
They were on the fourth floor and were tiny. The ceiling height was probably 5 1/2 feet and the door jambs were even lower.  I'm only 5'3" and could not have walked through a door without ducking.

Also, there was no heat. None. I know heat rises but I can assure you that those rooms were not warm  on the cold day that I visited.The castle was originally built with steam heat but there wasn't a radiator in sight in the servant's quarters .
Bottom line? It must have really sucked to be a servant.

Don't be fooled.
That's a child size bed in there. 
This is a tiny room and it was the largest of the 
servant's rooms we saw.

And then because three castles in two months got me to thinking, I started checking to see what other castles there are in Colorado.

Turns out there was another one right in Colorado Springs. Glen Eyrie. I drove by but wasn't able to stay for the inside tour.  But honey! It looks like a real castle in every sense of the word. Can't wait to go back.

And when I took this there were wild turkeys and deer
roaming around behind me.

And for what looks to be the best castle of them all....¡¡Mira!!
Ice castles!


Tickets are already purchased for the Breckenridge Ice Castle.

Doesn't this look amazing??

I cannot wait.  Except I have to.   We won't be able to get there until after January 1.

But that's okay. Something to look forward to.

09 December 2013

Decorating the Cabin: Part Two for REAL!

Decorating the Cabin: Part Two for Real: Inside!

The snow stopped last week finally.

We got about 2 feet total of snow in a 24 hour period.

And we have not been above freezing since last Wednesday.
Every single night we have been in the negative digits.
Every single morning Carlos and I have gone out for a (very quick) walk in the -9º/-6º/-11º weather. Somehow that dog does not understand that it is COLD outside.
Even the people who live here all of the time, people who have been born and raised in Colorado, say that it is unusual to be this cold, this early and for this long.
So why doesn't the dog get it??

Carlos loves a winter wonderland. 

Anyway,  all of this is to explain why I am a little slow on finishing my cabin Christmas decorations. I got the garland and lights up outside and then the cold and snow  hit. All I wanted to do inside was put some greenery out, but I had not cut the greenery. When it is below freezing, the greenery pretty much snaps off in your hands. And not in a good way. More of a "fall apart" way.

So yesterday was warm enough to get out and tromp through the snow to do some cutting. Carlos thought it was a wonderful adventure.

And now I have the stockings hung by the chimney with care and visions of greenery everywhere.
(My apologies to Clement C. Moore.)

Our mantel is so weird. The cabin ceilings are only 7 feet tall- very low. And for some reason the fireplace mantel is high.  It took me forever to find something long and narrow to fill that space.

I love these stockings. Even though I hang them all up with "Nice" on display, it seems "Naughty" turns up overnight.

And look what makes the perfect stocking hanger in a cabin.   Deer antlers. 
Thank you Brother Paul for providing the deer antlers for the fireplace.  My brother would have loved it up here, I'm so sorry he never made it.


We have these twig deer on the porch and by my desk.  We've always called this "Mad Deer Cabin" so they make a good mascot. 

Please notice their scarves. They are hand knitted. 
Yes, by ME!!   
Even though they aren't perfect, I am so pleased that I managed to actually knit something and take it off the knitting needles and put it to use. It's a Christmas miracle. 
(Click here to read about my adventures in knitting.  Learn to knit was No. 51 on my list.)

The kitchen (only) table has greenery also along with some lovely little pom pom dried weeds that I found on the road by the post office. This is budget decorating at its finest. Also, "green" decorating because once we leave town- I'm tossing the whole mess out in the side yard so it can decompose/reseed/mulch itself. 

And finally, even though he is outside, he didn't get decorated earlier. This is Kaiser. He greets everyone that comes to the door. 
It's Colorado. We have to have a bear. 

So thanks for joining me on my decorating tour. Happy holidays to all.
(Click for Posts One and Two on my decorating adventures.)


I have to give a shout out to my girlies and their cheerleading team mates. 
Over the weekend they competed in the Colorado High School Activities Association State Cheerleading Competition.
Even though HALF of their team was new this year, they managed to beat out 7 other teams in their division to win a state championship.  They will even get championship rings.  
Just like the Super Bowl. Only not. 
And the school got a big ol' trophy. 
And the girls get bragging rights. 
I am so proud of them.  They worked very very very hard for this. And their routine was perfect.
Yay for the Salida Spartan Cheerleaders and their amazing and dedicated coaches, Kathy and Audrey. 

My two are dead center- to the right of Josh, the only boy on the team.
And props to Josh who probably got plenty of ribbing for being a cheerleader, but he also plays football.
And guess what? He's the only football player at the school that will get a championship ring this year. 
Besides, how much time did he get to hang out with 13 adorable girls? 
I think Josh is a pretty smart boy.

(If you are really interested, you can click here to see their winning routine.)

05 December 2013

Decorating the Cabin: Part Two

Decorating the Cabin: Part Two/Delayed

I was going to post the decorations for the inside of the cabin. 

That would involve all the greenery over the fireplace and the greenery on the table.

However, I had not cut the greenery and Mother Nature had other ideas. 

Mother Nature added her decorations, mine will have to wait.

 Cozy cabin in the woods. 

Our Christmas trees.  

Once we dig out, I'll share the inside marvelous-ness! (Ha!)

04 December 2013

Decorating the cabin:Part One

Decorating the Cabin: Part One/Garland

Back in September I made a pine cone garland to go over the cabin door.

The original garland back in September.

You can see that tutorial here.

Amazingly, the pine cone garland is still alive and still hanging over the front door- in spite of some pretty heavy duty winds and lots of snow.

But now I am ready for some festive Christmas decor.
And I'm not interested in spending much money or doing too much, because we will head back to Texas for Christmas day.    But I do want the cabin to feel joyous while we are here.

So this morning, working against the clock and the snow fall to come, I reworked the pine cone garland.

First I gathered a large amount of greenery. I'm sure these greens have specific names but I'm calling them pine and fir. And that is probably incorrect. Whatever.

Two different kinds of greens.
A great place to start!

Then I spread my original garland out on the front porch so I could work on the entire length at once.

The original garland about to get
gussied up for the holidays.

I also gathered my supplies:
Wire nippers
Floral wire

Today's cast of characters.

If you do not already have a garland to use as a base, you can start with a length of jute or wire. Cut the jute/wire the length that you wish your garland to be.  If you are using a light weight wire you might want to cut three lengths and braid it together- making your base a little sturdier. (If you do this, be sure to cut your wires longer than you want your finished project. Twisting/braiding will take up some of the length.)

I cut about 25  ten inch lengths of floral wire to start. You'll probably need more than that before all is said and done, but 25 will get you started.

Wear the gloves or risk poking yourself with the wire ends and pine cones. (Like I did...)
(Also, if you don't wear the gloves you will need to schedule a manicure post-garland, post- haste.)

Starting at each end I lay down some airy fir greens, twisting the existing pine cones around a bit just to hold it in place.

Start from the ends and work your way in,
overlapping as you go.

Next I placed the pine, overlapping the fir,  again laying it down and twisting a pine cone or two around the stems.

Alternating fir and pine I worked from each end to the middle. At this point I was just laying it out and not wiring anything into place.

Stop, admire your work and revel in the glorious evergreen scent.

Once you have reached the center and are happy with your lay out, start tying your wires about every 6 to 8  inches.  Tie them around the greens to secure everything in place. Once everything is secure, wrap  the wire ends up and down each individual stem- securing the greens to the jute and pine cones. If you just tie it without wrapping up and down, your ends will stick out and your greenery will fall off.

Just for balance I tried to make the center heavier and fuller, tapering down the sides to the airy fir at each end.

For the center I twisted three wires together and then into a loop which was tied around the garland center. The loop is used to hang the garland and help secure the centerpiece.

Three wires, twist them together, 
make a loop.

Once all your greens are tied on, hang your wreath back up. The exact center will still look a little bare where the greens meet.

Then make a bouquet of greens/dried flowers and stick it into the center spot, either through the hanging loop or tied to that loop. Whatever works and makes it stay put.

Make a little bouquet for the center.

A smaller bouquet is wired to the bottom of the center- filling it out and covering any bare spots that might be showing where it is hung.

If you are an over- achiever, add a bow.

I wanted a very simple cabin-y look and stuck with just greens.
(Also it started snowing and I was working outside.  Nothing like snow everywhere to make you decide you are done.)

Admire your finished product.

Carlos staring out the door and me standing in the snow.

Joy to the world.

02 December 2013

No. 12: Take a snow skiing lesson

No. 12: Snow Skiing Lesson.

So No. 12 on the list was to get myself a snow skiing lesson.

And since I'm in Colorado and we just had a boatload of snow, I really didn't have much excuse to not follow through on this one.

Plenty of snow.

But I have to say, this was probably the scariest and most "I want to but I don't really want to" of all my challenges.

I've always wished I was raised in one of those families that put their kids on skis when they were three. But I wasn't.

Instead, to me, skiing was just one of those things other people did. 

But the snow was there, the temperature was perfect and Boy had already asked to go to the ski area so there was  NO reason why I couldn't take a lesson.   I hoped the classes would be full, but they weren't. Again, there was NO reason why I couldn't take a lesson

Boy had one snowboarding lesson 4 years ago yet
he had no problem picking it right up. 

Getting my boots on. 
Still hoping the lesson might be cancelled.

So I was out there on the bunny slope with three other much younger, much more adept, beginning skiers. 

This is the part of the lesson I aced.
My name and where I was from and what was my experience- 
I knew all the answers.

And you know what?
This has got to be the stupidest thing ever but since my only experience observing skiers has been watching the Olympics, I did not realize that I was not supposed to go straight down the mountain.
I could not understand why the patient instructor was teaching us to turn this way and that.
That was the whole point?
News to me. 


This is not me.
And somehow I never realized that skiers were turning as they came down the mountain.
But looking at pictures I couldn't find a single one with a skier coming straight down. 

About an hour into the class I had a huge reality check.
I am not in the excellent physical shape required for snow skiing.
And that knee I broke FORTY years ago is not as strong as the knee that has never been broken. Muscles were squealing and I could tell that the left leg was working much harder than the right one. My right ankle was joining my right knee at the pity party.

Me in the pink jacket looking awkward. 
But at least I'm upright. 

The more I practiced, the weaker my muscles got. 
I confess. 
I ducked out early.

Once I decided to duck out, 
I still had to get down the mountain.
Or the tiny slope. 

But I'm not giving up entirely.

I really feel like if I worked out a little, I could do this. (Why, o! why is my horse in Texas? Those horse riding muscles are the ones I need.)  Maybe yoga class would help.
Especially since now I have the concept down.
Maybe I need a private lesson.
But plenty of people ski, people older than me,  so I'm sure I can figure it out. 

The hubs says maybe I need to realize my limits.