26 February 2014


Nope, this one was NOT on the list.

I double checked twice.
There is absolutely no mention of  No. 62: Raise baby chicks.
(Click here for the real list.)

Peep peep peep.

There is a mention of entering something into the county fair.  That's No. 41.  But I really had jalapeño jelly in mind. Or maybe a quilt. Not laying hens. 

A quilt with Baby Clara wrapped inside: Yes.
Chickens: No.

And No. 39 is Grow a vegetable from scratch.
Not Grow a chicken from scratch.

But yesterday Bunny came home late from school with a big bucket, a waterer, a warming lamp, feed, fluff and not one but FOUR baby chicks.
Four of them.

Adorable. Peep.

Peep peep peep.

They are adorable.
They are upstairs in Bunny's room.
They are not my responsibility.
I keep repeating that to myself.

Adorable. Peep peep.

Peep peep peep.

There is some precedent for chicks in the house, I hate to say.
When I was little my brothers and I got baby chicks at Easter.
One of the chicks got eaten by the dog next door.
One followed my mother into the garage and she shut the door, not realizing he was behind her.
But mine….mine grew up!
And he was a rooster.
A rooster that crowed every morning on the backyard fence.
This was in Alamo Heights in San Antonio.
Not out in the country.
After the neighbors complained my father found "Chickie" a new home at the "chicken farm".
For a solid year after that ( maybe longer) my brothers delighted in exclaiming "O! It's Chickie" every time we had chicken for dinner.
Talk about traumatic.

Peep peep peep.

Anyway, there are chicks in the house.
Bunny assures me that she has some friends that will take them when they get to be teenagers.
She just wanted to enjoy the baby stage.
(Isn't that how everyone ends up with babies???)


And I'm trying to keep a sense of humor.
While I traumatize her.

Peep peep peep.

24 February 2014

Better Hovels and Cabins

Better Hovels and Cabins..
   or a little Home Cabin Tour

The other morning I was cleaning the cabin.
And since it was clean, I decided to take a few pictures.
(Anyway, a friend of Belle's was coming into town to surprise her and I felt the least I could do was corral the dust bunnies and de-fur the furniture. That might be the first clue that Spring really is coming. Carlos has suddenly developed an inordinate amount of disposable hair.)
And since I had pictures of a clean cabin, I knew that Architectural Digest might want them.
Then I had a reality check.
OK, maybe y'all would like to see.
So today we have a house cabin tour.
Alert all the design blogs.

And come on in...

Our front door opens directly into the living/dining room.

The Indian prints on the wall are probably half the reason we own this cabin and not some other little hovel.   We've had those prints forever and I love them. There are six of them that have been on some wall or another in the Texas house for the last 20+ years.   When I walked in this cabin door I KNEW that the Indians belonged here. And I was right.
They were one of the first things to make the trip up after closing.

Isn't it nice that the dog is color coordinated? 

The fireplace was probably darling when the cabin was new with its little arch, but chimney issues (along with functionality issues) meant that the fireplace got scrapped for a pellet stove insert.
I had never heard of a pellet stove prior to cabin shopping, but let me tell you, that baby is my new best friend. At least on the cold days.
Very efficient at warming things up and pellets are very easy to buy, carry and store.   Compare that to a wood burning stove that requires logs being chopped and stacked and brought in, usually with creepy-crawlies attached.
No thank you.

To the right of the door is the dining area and kitchen.  Behind that strategically placed rug hanging on the wall is the enormous fuse box. Who plans these things?? It is the first thing you see when you walk in the door. Convenient for when the girls plug in a two and a five at the same time, but otherwise really bad planning.  (And if that sentence didn't make sense to you, click here.)

The entire front living area is a grand total of 20 feet by 13 feet. With 7 foot ceilings. Fortunately, as Bunny puts it, "we are not tall people".

The kitchen is tiny but so functional.

I love the cabinets. They are so hokey but also so perfect for a log cabin.
Originally this kitchen was blue. Actually the entire cabin was pink and blue. Baby pink and baby blue. Really.
Blue countertops and blue wallpaper with the perfect pink and blue flower wallpaper border at the ceiling. I pulled that wallpaper off first thing and we lived with unfinished walls for a year before I finally found wallpaper I could stand.
The countertops were changed right off the bat along with a new deeper sink and spray faucet.  I don't mind small but I do mind non functional.   (That wallpaper is intertwined antlers- a nod to the fact we call this place Mad Deer Cabin.)

Here's a before picture. Remind you of the 80s? Or was it the 70s?

The death-trap stairs are between the living room and the office area. They go upstairs to the two bedrooms. You won't be seeing those because the girls leave them in a constant state of Yuck.
Here is Carlos guarding the top.

And this is Carlos's view from the top.
These stairs are not only steep but also uneven. The treads measure anywhere from 7 inches to 9 inches deep.
Pretty sure these stairs would not pass code anywhere.  Good thing we are out in the country where no one cares.   Also good thing the first floor ceilings are only 7 feet high. When you fall down the stairs (everyone does) at least you don't fall far.

I had the sign custom made.
Doesn't help a bit. 
People still slip.

Here is my little office area where my computer is supposed to sit. But it doesn't.

Unfortunately it is also the laundry room.
Of course, I keep the laundry area this sparkling clean and organized ALL the time.
Because this part of the cabin is over a crawl-space, the whole room vibrates when the washing machine spins. That is why my iPad has a crack in it now. It actually vibrated off the desk.

That door on the right leads to the one and only bathroom.
And the wall with the shelves and door opening used to be the back wall of the cabin. Everything beyond that is an add-on. Thank goodness. Otherwise this place would be a bit too small.
The original foot print of this cabin back in 1975 when it was built was 20 x 30 feet.

And this is where I blog:

Don't tell the hubs…he thinks this is his fly-tieing desk. Ha! As if that will ever happen.
You can see on the left what used to be the exterior of the cabin.

Behind me is the mud-room.  I LOVE having a mud room, particularly because we have had lots of mud.

And look who is guarding the back door now.
He's a very all purpose guard dog.

Then there is the master bedroom in the back. It's a big undecorated room with an odd shape.
This little corner is where the elf works on her sewing machine. And watches TV. 

This used to be the back bedroom.  
Be amazed at the variations of pink. I was.
So was the flooring guy who replaced the carpet. 

Wow! And we bought the place anyway.

And through the back room is the door to the deck.   
When we bought the cabin there was the door, but no deck. If you happened to step out the back door you would drop about 5 feet.  Pretty sure that wouldn't have passed code either. 
Again, good thing we are out in the middle of nowhere and no one cares. 

So thanks for coming along on the cabin tour.  
In a few months I'll have the garden tour.
That would be once the garden is no longer under a foot of snow.

Can't wait.

(I also can't wait unit I get my Nikon back. It is in need of repairs and there is no place here to get that done. So the camera is in Texas and hopefully will be fixed by the end of March when we head back down there. It is next to impossible to get a clear shot with my iPad or iPhone. Blogger issues. Sigh.)

19 February 2014

Hope Springs...

Hope Springs Eternal….

    One of my favorite lines:
    Hope springs eternal....

    It's from An Essay on Man: Epistle I by Alexander Pope and the full line is 

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Not the easiest to understand but I love the first line.Hope springs eternal.
That I get. 

There's always hope. 
And there is hope for Spring to come. 

Out the front door: February 1

This past week in my tiny corner of Colorado we have been teased, taunted, and flirted with.
The highs have been in the 50s and even skirted 60º a day or two.
Lows have been at 32° or at least right around there. 

Let me tell you, 40° at 7:00am feels like summer. 

I open the door for Carlos and follow him out, barefoot. 

Today the laundry called, the floors begged to be swept, and dishes whined from the sink "wash us".

And I went outside, escaping the cacophony of chores to enjoy the promise of Spring. 

Snow is melting and creating tiny rivers bubbling down the road sides. The sound is delightful, so much so that I recorded it for you:

Sweet Carlos would have liked to play in that water.
Stupid barbed wire fence. 
And that is the wind that you hear above the bubbling.

(There is also an awful amount of mud outside my back door, but you've got to take the good with the bad. Reality bites some times.)

All that snow melting makes mud. 

My neighbor, familiar with the wildlife, agreed when I asked if the bears would stir from their winter sleep if this weather kept up. Not for good, but for a snack before tucking back in for the rest of the winter. 

Because there will be more winter. I'm not kidding myself. 

But today I went out and looked for Spring. 

Neighbor said the bears might come out to nibble on grass. 
And I thought "Poor babies. There's nothing but dead grass. Might as well stay tucked in their dens."

Then I found tiny shoots of green peeking out from the mud and ice.

Green peeking out from the dead brown.

Branch ends are budding. I wasn't sure at first. But then I realized it was only the branches at the top, the sides facing the sun, the parts of the tree that got the most heat and most light exposure. Those buds are for real. 

The promise of tiny leaves.

And Look!  Bulbs from the previous home owner have sent up a couple of leaves...when did that happen? This spot has been under snow for...for forever. 

I think these are irises.
I've never been here in the Spring to actually see them bloom.
But this yearthis year I will see!
It's like Christmas for Carlos. Toys thrown and then not retrieved, the distraction of a deer or bunny taking over, were lost in the snow. Slowly they are reappearing. 

We've been looking for this ball.
I've found three balls that I thought were lost. 

Spring will come. 
It won't stay this time but it will visit for a few days, leave and return. 

Out the front door today.

I know. 

Because ...
Hope springs eternal in the human breast. 

(I wrote this on Tuesday afternoon. Now it's Wednesday afternoon and guess what? 
Yep, it's snowing. )

17 February 2014

No. 59: Learn 300 words of a new language.

No. 59: Learn 300 words of a new language.

Truthfully I've been wondering what I had committed myself to.   Three hundred words? And what language? Could I cheat and learn 300 Spanish words?

No.  No Spanish.
I'm already semi-fluent in Spanish so that wouldn't be legit.
And Italian doesn't count either since the spelling is so close.

And I wasn't sure how I was going to do this. I'm not exactly living in a locale where there are many two-language people to interact with.

And then once again …serendipity.

I get  Laughing Squid in my inbox every morning along with its many links to esoteric information and websites that I may or may not need to look into.  Usually I scroll through the links and hit "delete" but Saturday it had the answer for me.


Created by someone in Poland. 

No, that wasn't a drum roll. That's the answer.

"Ba Ba Dum is an online collection of games that lets you learn words in different languages by selecting the correct illustration of the example word."*  Nine languages.  Five different games. 
And the games get harder as you go through them. I know. Because I thought I was a genius when I did the Italian one. 

Italian is close enough to Spanish that I can read the words and put them with the correct picture. That's the first game.   Since I easily breezed through 300 words I figured "Ha! I got this. Let's try the fourth game."

This is the easiest level.
Conveniently in English so you can get an idea
just click on the corresponding picture to the word in the middle.

Joke's on me. The same pictures are there but at the bottom there are just letters. The player (that would be me) has to put them in order to spell the correct word. 
Not so easy.  Turns out I don't know Italian.

Hmmm. Things are a little more complicated here.

Now I need to figure out the other languages. 
There are just flags to click on, not easily spelled out words like "German" or "Italian". 
And decide which one to learn. 
Maybe French? 
I know some French. 
And I hope to make it back to Paris eventually. (Bunny is owed a trip, something she NEVER lets me forget.)

I learned some German a few years back when I went to Austria. But in Germany everyone seems to know English so I never got to practice. 

French it is. 

Let's see how it goes. 

13 February 2014

On Valentine's Day….

On Valentine's Day…

Wishing hogs…

and fishes…

to all.

Happy V. D.!


Love, me

12 February 2014

A Little Chemistry...

Chemistry Class: The kind you can pass.

I've been slacking on the challenges.  O well.
They'll get done.

I've actually been chatting with my friend, Cherrilla, about No. 10: Start a business that makes money.
But that's as far as we've gotten.

And I believe brunch is on the menu during a late March trip to New Orleans. That's No. 21: Go to brunch.

At least there is some planning going on.

But this post is about chemistry.  Timely since I have just come from parent/teacher conferences and one of the girlies (who shall remain unnamed) apparently is not doing too well in Chemistry. Hmmmm.

Except I'm talking about FUN chemistry here, not the kind with equations.
The kind of chemistry that ends up with something yummy to eat.

Because really that's all baking is, just chemistry.

And I love to bake.

Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge and realized there were some very overripe bananas in there.
So of course I had to make banana bread.

Here's the cast of characters for the bread:

See? Those are really ripe bananas.

Except the recipe calls for two eggs and I only had one. So I had to stop everything and drive 20 miles to the grocery store for eggs. And 20 miles back.

Then I made a huge mess in the kitchen because that's just how I roll.

A little blurry, a little messy. 
But the results are worth it.

And then I ended up with this:

Not a food photographer, I confess. 
But the counter is clean and the banana bread is yummy.

This is the best, most moist banana bread ever.  
At least in Texas it is. 
Since I'm in Colorado above 7000 feet I still need to figure out the secrets to high altitude baking. With this recipe I've been adding 1/2 an egg more and that seems to help. 

So here we go:    
Best Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tablespoons butter softened. (That's one whole stick of butter. A quarter of a pound. Yum.)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs  (or 2 1/2 eggs if you are doing the high altitude thing)
1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 large ones)
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. (Or do what I do, stir them up a bit and call it a day.)
Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add eggs and bananas to the butter mixture.  Blend thoroughly.

In a separate bowl (ok, this recipe does use a lot of bowls) combine the milk and lemon juice. 

Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, alternately blend the dry mix and the milk mix into the banana mix. 

Throw in the cup of walnuts. 

Mix up all the mixes. 

Pour it all into a lavishly buttered 9x5 loaf pan. 

Bake for one hour. 


You're welcome. 

And for your entertainment, a Vine starring this very same banana bread being made in Texas.


If you are curious about the differences between my Texas kitchen and my Colorado kitchen, click  here for that post.

And if you have any suggestions for high altitude baking, please let me know.

10 February 2014


Wowie Zowie! 

A very happy, happy birthday to my father.

Today my dad is 91 years old.    NINETY ONE!

               Last year's birthday. When he was just 90.

Can you imagine?

He was born in 1923.

And he was in good company.   Also hitting the delivery rooms that year were:

Bob Barker (Game show host-The Price is Right)
Don Adams (Actor-Get Smart)
Bob Dole (U.S. Representative)
Charlton Heston (Actor-movies)
Henry Kissinger (Diplomat)
Peter Lawford (Actor)
Rocky Marciano (Boxer)
Jean Stapleton (Actress-All in the Family)
Franco Zeffirelli (Director)
Among many others,  famous and not.

In 1923 Warren G. Harding was our 29th president until he died unexpectedly in August of that year. Calvin Coolidge succeeded him. 

That year Time Magazine was launched.

Howard Carter opened up King Tutankhamun's tomb. 

Insulin was introduced as a treatment for diabetes. 

Adolf Hitler was getting himself organized and starting to stir up trouble.
So was the Ku Klux Klan. 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Cheney was in the theaters. 

It was a different time.

Imagine the changes my father has seen!

He's the father of three, grandfather to seven and great grandfather to eight. 

Married for 64 years to my mother. Let me repeat: Sixty four years! (Almost 65.)

What a long and lovely life. Here's to many more birthdays.

Hope you have a great day, Daddy-O!

(And sorry, no new pictures. The Internet tech came out and "fixed" my Internet service so now nothing works.  Best I could do.)

And to put the year 1923 into perspective, for all of you Masterpiece Classic aficionados, this season's series of Downton Abbey is set in 1922 with the Christmas special set in 1923.  
Like I said, Wow!

Snow outside, flowers inside

Flowers in the House on a Snowy Morning

Linking up again today with Jane at Small but Charming for Flowers in the House.

I like having an excuse (I don't need much of one!) to have flowers around.

Today is an especially lovely day to have flowers inside because it is snowing outside.

The weather forecast was light snow showers turning to rain. Right now the snow is coming down in big fat wet flakes that are sticking everywhere.   Since I have 100 miles to drive to get to a doctor's appointment with Belle later today, I do hope that forecast is correct.  I don't mind driving the canyon road in rain but snow can be blinding.

But right now, inside my cozy log cabin, there are tulips on my desk.

And snowflakes outside.

Great combination.


(And once again, I thought I had this Video thing figured out, BUT…
if the video isn't showing up, please click here.)

Have a wonderful day.

(Computer is back up working. And it is still my dad's 91st birthday. Happy day!)

06 February 2014

No. 24 :Organize all those old photos

No. 24:Organize all those old photos  
a.k.a. Mission Impossible

I am the Queen of Procrastination some times.
(I always knew I would be Queen.)

Thousands of photos and they all need organizing. Sorting. 

From 1985 to 2001 all of my photos are in albums, labeled and organized.

There's an entire cabinet of these in Texas.

For the last 13 years, once we went digital, not so much.

I KNOW  I have lost photos when computers have died, programs have changed, and cameras have been replaced. One Christmas season is lost. Windows 7 wouldn't accept my new Nikon camera for a while. Photos were sorted at Kodak Gallery. Then KodakGallery became Shutterfly. They still have my photos but I don't like the website. A switch from Windows to a Mac presented other challenges.  Photos are backed up places but ...but....I need to know where to look to find them. 

AND, all those photo albums take up space. And with three kids, how do you divide up the albums down the road? Also, paper photos have a tendency to fade and deteriorate. 

What to do? 

The majority of the digital photos are at least dated.
And in albums:

Screenshot of my computer.
There is a little organization there, but not a lot.
I am not in love with iPhoto but haven't figured out an alternative.

I do find that between my iPad, iPhone and Mac, there are photos that are on one that aren't on another. There's the Cloud, but apparently the photos don't launch themselves into the air. 

The ability to share photos digitally is just magical. But that means years of pics aren't available. Like everything before the year 2000. 

A few years ago I attended a digital camera workshop that lasted all day. I was hoping it would teach me how to use all the features on my fantastic Nikon DSLR camera. 


The only thing I took away from that class was how to easily transfer paper photos to digital. 

Previously I had taken photos out of the album, scanned them, replaced them back where they belonged in the album, and on and on.   It took forever and I quickly lost interest.

The workshop taught me to use my great camera, open up the album, take a pic and voilà! Digital pics. 

It's important to put the album near a window with good natural, albeit indirect, light. Peel back the plastic film covering the page.  Snap, snap, snap. 

Obviously you lose a tiny bit of clarity with each copy. Many of the older photos are not that high quality to start out with. 

Here is the difference between a scan and a photo.

This lovely photo was taken in 1997.
Here is the scanned  version.
(Love my Prince Valiant hair do and oversize glasses…and my brother Steve.
Also, please marvel at the fact that I look 12 not 41.)

And this is the digital photo of the original.
I took it with my iPad since my good camera is in Texas, ailing. 
Comparable if not indiscernible from the scanned version 
and I'm sure a 35mm photo would be better...

But the joy of digital is that you can adjust color and clarity. So those fuzzy faded high school pics are 
brought back to life. Or at least stalled in their aging process.

A quick pic taken from a  high school album in 
Texas while we were home for Bunny's birthday.
This is prom night 1974, me in my prom dress with a 
plaster cast from my thigh to my toes.
(Click here to see Belle in her prom dress.
Times and prom dresses have changed.)

The same photo, cropped and color boosted.
Not perfect but an improvement. 

So it's a start. Slowly converting the paper to digital. And dating them as I go. 

I still haven't figured out the perfect folder system. But I am hoping as I get more into this process, it will  come to me. 

Or maybe someone has a suggestion.

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Last night the internet was slow to nonexistent and I finally gave up on a timely Thursday posting.  
This morning in my inbox Hollywood Housewife had a wonderful post on organizing and backing up your  photos. Link to it here for inspiration/a kick in the pants.  
Sometimes the universe is trying to tell us stuff and we just have to slow down and listen. 

03 February 2014

Getting Set for No. 35: Go to my 40th High School Reunion

On Pins and Needles in Preparation for No. 35: Go to my 40th High School Reunion

Well,  the plans are set for the Robert E. Lee High School 1974 reunion
It will be 40 years since I graduated from High School.

The party is September 6, 2014 which gives me about nine months to get back to looking like this:
(You know, just so everyone recognizes me….)

Me. Back in the 70s.

While I was back in Texas last week, I visited my old place of employment, Mirvana Acupuncture.

And I had a facial acupuncture treatment. 
Warning: These pictures are not for the needle-phobic.

 Me, getting poked.

See? I'm smiling.
Because it DOES NOT hurt.

Facial acupuncture is a wonderful process that makes those delightful little crow's feet less obvious. 
It gives you a glow. 
Results are subtle but obvious.
As in, I arrived at my friend Diana's house on Monday night after waking at 5am, rushing and stressing at the DMV, getting packed and dealing with last minute "O! I forgot we need to pick this up before we leave" demands from the girls, flying two hours (TSA Agents!!), landing in the dark and snow and then driving in that same dark and snow and the first thing she said was "The trip home must have been relaxing. You look so rested."
(The trip home was not relaxing or restful, just to clarify.)

No, dearie, I look rested because I had acupuncture.

And I will be having it again. Not because I want to deny my crow's feet.  I agree with Cameron Diaz on this one:
But I do like looking rested. 

Also, because it is a new year and I'm doing the new year/new look thing, I got a  new haircut.

Still smiling. 

And a little explanation of how facial acupuncture works…
The needles are very fine and slightly feathered.  The practitioner threads the needles just under the skin which causes the body to think "trauma". But really, it's not traumatic at all.  The body then sends blood cells and collagen to repair the area. This plumps the areas where the needles were inserted, making the face look rested and fuller. 

Or you can read the slightly more scientific explanation in this article:
But how can sticking needles into the skin improve our faces?
... when needles are inserted at pressure points, energy and endorphins are released. This minor trauma improves blood flow and stimulates cell re-growth.
'We put needles in at vortex points where energy is travelling to and from organs along lines we call meridians,' she explains. 'When energy flows more efficiently, circulation is improved, helping the body rejuvenate.
'Traumatising the skin by inserting tiny needles will also encourage the production of healing collagen, the protein which the body uses to keep the skin youthful and elastic.'