30 July 2014

No. 41:Enter Something into the Fair

No. 41: Enter something into the fair- either the Ft. Bend County Fair or maybe even the Chaffee County Fair

I know, I know.

Everyone assumes I have totally forgotten about my 60 challenges since I have worked on exactly zero of them this summer.

But that is not true.

Just last week while I was in Colorado I knocked out No. 41: Enter something into the fair.

The official fair handbook with
entry requirements. 

Now, I confess.   I entered.   I don't know yet if by some miracle I won anything but that wasn't really part of the challenge.  Just entering was.

The Chaffee County Fair and Rodeo is always the first week in August and is held at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds in Salida.

Fair grounds entrance.

For the fair there are Open Class Divisions for textiles, hobbies, crafts, fine arts, photography, horticulture and floriculture.
The rodeo includes bareback riding, barrel racing, team roping, steer riding, mutton bustin', carriage driving, calf branding, hay stacking and trailer loading contests. You know, rodeo stuff.
There's also a "Best Decorated Rock Contest" for the 12 and under set. The rock must be picked from the fair grounds.

I entered the SENIOR Class 13- Cookies (rolled) Baking Division.  (Senior?! WTF?)
And my recipe of choice?
Dark Mocha Rum Balls.  (Hmmm.  Just realized they weren't really baked. Bet that counted against me!)
Six cookies, in a plastic bag on a paper plate.
I followed all the entry rules.

And why did I decide on rum balls of all things?
Because entries could be turned in on Saturday or Sunday for judging on Monday.  But Sunday was spent in Gunnison having lunch with my friend Liddy.   So that meant I needed to turn those cookies in on Saturday.
Which got me to thinking. What gets better with age after making? Regular cookies can dry out. Pies get soggy.
But rum balls? Rum balls just keep getting better and better.
Besides,  if you were judging, wouldn't you appreciate a little shot of rum in your otherwise humdrum Monday morning?

Besides, I didn't have a whole bunch of time to experiment. This was a bit of a last minute decision.

So rum balls were entered.

Me, leaving the Fair Grounds drop off building.

Judging was Monday morning, the same day we left town and headed to Denver for the night.
I have no idea if I won a ribbon or not. Guess I will have to wait until after this weekend when the entire fair results are listed in the paper.

And if I won, what would I get?
Are you sitting down?
Besides a ribbon, "premiums" are also awarded.
Grand Champion gets $3.00!!!
A Blue ribbon gets $1.50.
And the lowly White ribbon gets a measly 50¢.

Kind of breaks my heart knowing I won't be there to collect my winnings.
(That's also assuming I was the only entry in that class/divison- most probably the ONLY way I could actually win.)

No. 41 was entered.

And if you, too, want to make my (possibly) Prize Winning Dark Mocha Rum Balls, here's the recipe.

The cast of characters.
(Don't you love my ancient $8.00 food processor? Got it at Free the Monkey, the resale store.)


 vanilla wafers, finely crushed (about 2-1/2 cups crumbs)

cup  powdered sugar plus an extra ½ cup (divided evenly)  for coating

cup  finely chopped pecans plus an extra ¼ cup for coating

cup  (1 stick) butter, melted

Tbsp.  light corn syrup

Tbsp.  unsweetened dark cocoa powder

cup  coffee rum  (I used Brinley's Gold Coffee Rum from St. Kitts. A substitute would be 1 tsp. instant coffee mixed into ¼ cup rum and allowed to sit for 15 minutes or so.)

Mix all ingredients (except extra powdered sugar and extra crushed pecans) together.
Shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Mix ¼ cup reserved crushed pecans and ¼ cup reserved powdered sugar together. Roll balls in the sugar/pecan mix.
Store overnight in tightly sealed container, separating layers with wax paper if necessary.
The next morning, roll balls one more time in the last extra ¼ cup powdered sugar.

Keep stored at room temperature. These improve with age!! Don't eat them all at once.

28 July 2014

Carlos Loves TV

My dog watches TV, doesn't yours??

The other morning the girls and I were in the kitchen and they were watching silly animal videos.
I joined them.

We watched a penguin go shopping.

Lala- the shopping penguin. *

We watched a baby elephant. Why are they always so adorable?

Baby elephant trying to walk

Then the girls found something called DOGTV Stimulation .

Carlos LOVED it!

If you can't see the fascinated  Carlos, 
click here. 

A Beagle and a Pekingese romped around in the grass and Carlos obviously wanted to join in. 
But he couldn't.   
That didn't stop him from trying. 

Hopefully the Big Guy has entertained Carlos while we have been gone.  I also hope no one told Carlos where we were going.

Boy! He'd be mad if he knew we were off in Colorado playing with his deer while he had to stay in Texas.


23 July 2014

Poor Carlos

Pobrecito Carlos.

(Carlos gets to be the center of attention while I am out of town.....)

Poor sweet baby Carlos.

He has just not had a good time since he has been back in Texas.

Poor Carlos. 
The pain of a badly cut foot.
The humiliation of the "Cone of Shame".

And now, as you read this, I am in Colorado with the girls and he is in Texas with the daddy and Big Guy.

And it has been raining a lot in Texas.

And when it rains in Texas, lots of the time it storms.
Which means thunder. And lightning.

Carlos, understandably, does not like lightning OR thunder.
(Click here if you wonder why I am saying "understandably".)

So last week while Belle and I were flying home from Florida, there was a BIG thunderstorm in Texas.

And Bunny was at home with Carlos.

She said he was like a baby duck- following on her heels everywhere she went.

Bunny went out for a bit and when she came back in she couldn't find him.

And then she did.

Have you ever seen anything so pitiful?
He looks like he is about to cry.

If you can't see this video, click here.

Cross your fingers there are no storms while we are gone.
But it doesn't look too promising.

21 July 2014

Again. Traveling.

Traveling Again!

In an attempt to use every frequent flyer point and dollar that we have (had), we are traveling again.

Both girls NEEDED to see their friend boys.

Bunny's is having a birthday.

Belle's is about to have her twice as far away.

And I just needed to see my mountains.  I've missed them.
I'm sure they have missed me.

Come back!!
(I hear the Twin Sisters calling me.) 

So we will be in Colorado for about 9 days. 

The computer will stay in Texas so probably no posts unless I get some done before we leave. Or maybe Carlos will prepare some,
(You know. In my spare time. Or Carlos's.)

This is going to be a surprise for all the friends there. Won't that be fun? 
Let's hope so. 

See you in a week or so....

17 July 2014

Friday Follow-Up

Friday Follow Up

As I mentioned here, back in May Belle graduated (was graduated? my mother would know the correct grammar on that one) from tiny Salida High School.

Belle with her proud mama.

Which means Belle is going to college.


Belle is a singular child. Determined. Knows what she wants, how she wants it and what color it should be in. Whatever "it" is.

Ever since she was in elementary school she has said "I will go to college by the beach, NOT in Texas. I want warm weather."

Belle's College Requirements:
Toes in the sand, sun on her back, ocean in the distance.
O! And classes. 

She's never been too specific about what she would study, although she has cycled through Veterinarian (couldn't put the animals to sleep, though), Marine Biologist (chemistry-not her forte) and hair stylist. She's a girl of many talents.

That's okay. It's a rare 18 year old that knows what they want to do for the rest of their life. Hell! I'm 58 and still struggling with that decision.

And so she made her college decision by looking at the map and researching small schools and acceptable (to her) locales.
I guess there are worse ways to decide.

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Palm Beach State College won.

PBSC Amphitheater- Gardens Campus

Since we were in Colorado, it was a Herculean task to get to Florida and back over even a long weekend to look at the school, so we didn't. Until this week. Texas to Florida ostensibly is an easier trip. (Although, of course, with our luck, that wasn't quite the case.)

Talk about cutting it close. School starts on the 22nd. Belle had NO back up plan. Didn't want one. She knew this is what she would do. And this is a school that offers ZERO school housing. No one could even suggest a place for her to live. I assumed that we would easily find something once we showed up on campus and talked to administrators and students in person. Wrong.  Nothing. No suggestions. Nothing on the Student Center boards. Nada. Zip. Zero.

The college is in the middle of a luxury community. No apartment complexes within 20 miles.


We both loved the school. Small.  About 9000 students. Friendly. Nice demographics. Safe.

But housing.

I scrolled through the realtors online until I found one that looked motherly. I called and pleaded my case. She referred me to an outstanding Coldwell Banker realtor, Arlene Love, that totally got what we needed. And assured me it would be very hard to find. But she was willing to try.

The next morning she had two listings for us to look at. But, as she said, sometimes you only need two.  Or one.

And the first one was it. A small garage apartment behind a large house in a lovely quiet community. Alarm system. Furnished. (I barely dared dream of a furnished apartment- that seemed to be asking too much to even think of.) And furnished in a way that Belle would have done if she had the chance.
Within 5 miles of the school. And 5 miles to the beach. With a washer and dryer. Internet included for a small additional fee. Parking outside her door.

The selling point for Belle? 
A bathroom counter that went on for days.....

The skies parted, the sun shone, angels sang.

Belle has a place to live.

Actually the sun did not shine.

On our way to the airport we got word that our flight had been cancelled.
We were rescheduled for the following day.
We boarded the plane Thursday and sat on the tarmac for 20 minutes because of rain. Took off and flew. And flew. And flew. Later we found out we had flown down almost to Cuba before heading towards Texas. And then we were held off some more because Texas had rain. Twice we were told of delays. We made a sharp turn and drop as the plane rerouted to Corpus Christi. They had held us off so long that we needed to refuel. This time an hour on the tarmac. No more water on the plane, it was getting warm and since we could look at our phones, we got to read about 298 people being shot down on a Malaysia Air flight. (Reassuring. Not.)

But we made it home. Only 18 hours after our originally scheduled arrival.

That's okay.

It was a successful trip.


I've had a few people question my sanity re: sending my 18 year old daughter off to live on her own 1000 miles away.
I get it.
But I also know this child. She will do just fine. There will be hiccups but if anyone can do it, she can. I am slowly collecting names and numbers of people in the vicinity in case of emergency. But I predict this one will go off and be successful, whatever she does.
Now her little sister. Not a snowball's chance that she would be allowed the same privilege. Love her, but no.
And older brother wouldn't even consider the idea. He doesn't like travel.

Besides, as my friend Libby pointed out: "Apple, tree, etc."
At 18, my parents dropped me off in San Miguel de Allende, in the middle of Mexico, for school. Like Belle, I knew no other students.
This was pre-cell phones and pre-computers. A long distance phone call took a minimum of two hours just to get through to an international operator. Then there might be a line available, might not. Mom left me at a boarding house and within a month I had met a friend and we had found an apartment.

My first two room mates at the boarding house.
Cathy, Claudia, Me.
(Love those high waisted pants!)

How did we know how to rent a place? I have no idea.
How did we get someone to rent to us? We had no jobs. We were foreigners. Again, I have no idea.
It was all an education.
And isn't that the point?

O! Libby is soooo right.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Apparently a bathroom counter that went on for days was my priority, also.
This was from a Mexican house we rented my second year down there. 

15 July 2014


Traveling with Belle this week.

Started out like this:

But quickly turning to this:

Why, o why, do I have a daughter just like me? 

10 July 2014

No. 46: Have a dinner party

No. 46: Have a dinner party  (Rethought.)

My original concept of No. 46 was a lovely dinner party with six to eight erudite friends gathered around my graciously set dining room table, crystal sparkling, silver shining and me charmingly serving a tasty and beautifully prepared meal to a symphony of oohs and ahhs.

The reality of my dining room these days is this:

Not exactly the place setting I had in my mind when I chose all the wedding china a gazillion years ago.

I have a centerpiece cat.

This is Max. He's a manx. (No tail. Never had one, never was supposed to have one.)

Max back in the day. 
Wasn't he adorably awkward? 

He is 20 years old. His back legs are wobbly. Carlos would like to play with him which just makes Max anxious, so he has been given safe haven on the dining room table. Sadly, he lives there 24-7. I say sadly because I would prefer he not be the first thing you see when you walk into our house. I don't think Max is sad about it at all. Max feels safe up high on his own private island.

I had bunko last night at my house. Dinner for 12 women along with drinks and dice throwing and more drinks and laughing and then yelling. Then dessert, prizes and water to rehydrate everyone.

Does that count as a dinner party? I'm not sure.

Certainly I fed 12 people. The crystal and silver were used. My friends are definitely educated and well informed.

The crystal was placed by the wine with care...
And let me just mention how much I HATE that tile backsplash. 

The centerpiece cat and his island table were moved into the office, the door closed and a substitute table was thrown into service. That cat table won't be eaten off of again until it has been refinished.  The table was my grandmother's. Sorry, Nanny. It does deserve a better life.

But I've also been thinking about a little dinner I had before I left Colorado.

My neighbor and new friend, Sue, was over and mentioned she had some tamales she needed to eat. She was trying to clear out her fridge before she headed back to Texas. Turns out, so was I.  My fridge had avocados. And beer. There were chips in the pantry.

That sounded like dinner.

So I told her to bring her tamales over. I made up a chili sauce for them and some guacamole.
We had some beers on the front porch, then moved indoors for tamales and guac. We laughed. We drank. We ate.

I think we used the enameled tin plates that I inherited from my sweet friend Liddy's mom, Verlyn. (Read about her, here.) "Gimme" Koozies encircled our beer cans.   Carlos did the dishes. (Ok, maybe just the pre-wash.)

Enameled tin plates. Love them. Have some old, some new. 
But the red rimmed white ones have the most sentimental value.

Does that count as a dinner party? Again, I'm not sure.

But you know what?
I'm saying YES.
These were dinner parties.

I think more than anything my time away from my real life has made me realize that things are not as concrete as I once believed. There are possibilities. I can make things happen. The limitations that I perceive are just that: perceptions.  

It also got me thinking about what we need in our lives.      
I have so much stuff.
Or does that stuff have me?
So I'm doing a little informal surveying regarding the "stuff" that we "need".
That post next week.


And if you need an easy recipe that expands to feed 12, here it is, courtesy of my mother and the Houston Chronicle.

Romantic Shrimp Fettuccine

1 ½ sticks butter (this is what it calls for- I use about half that much)
4 stalks celery, chopped
½ green bell pepper and ½ red bell pepper, chopped (or all one color, doesn’t                                                                                         matter)
1 bunch green onions, chopped  (I always forget these, no one has complained yet)
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup flour
½ cup water
2 lbs. peeled, deveined shrimp (frozen works)
4 Tbs parsley flakes
1 lb. Velveeta Mexican cheese
1 pint half and half
1 lb fettuccini noodles, cooked
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 in. casserole dish

In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté celery and bell pepper until tender. Add green onions and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and mix well. Cook 5 minutes on very low heat.
Add water- mixture will become very thick. Add shrimp and parsley- mix well. Cook another 5minutes. Add Velveeta and when melted, add half and half. Put noodles in prepared dish. Pour shrimp mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Prepared as is this feeds 8-10. To stretch it to twelve I add another pound of shrimp, throw in a little extra fettuccine noodles and use a larger casserole dish. And still I have leftovers. 

I could not find the Mexican Velveeta yesterday so I just used regular and I think it turned out too “cheesy”.  I think the next time I would try the Velveeta Queso Blanco. Or possibly half of each. 

Bunny even suggested I make it with chicken next time. She isn't a fan of shrimp. Silly girl. 

07 July 2014

No. 18: Paint a picture

No. 18: Paint a picture.

Well, I would love to say I have whipped this one out in my spare time but that is NOT the case.

But with the few brain cells I have left, I have been thinking about it.

I have also been inspired by a friend from high school.  Funny how you can sit next to someone every morning for six years straight and yet know so little about them.   I had no idea this person was so creative...but she certainly is. Reconnecting on Facebook after 40 years has totally opened my eyes to her amazing abilities.

The Crowd
By Ann Mulvey Woodroof

This is the second painting in this style she has done.
And I love it. I tend to go towards realism when I draw and paint but maybe I need to branch out.

I have a painting over my fireplace that I love that is abstract. Certainly I could do something just as impressive for my dining room? There's an enormous wall in there that could use some art.

Over my fireplace (at Christmas it appears)
I confess that this painting had only gold leafing on it when I purchased it. 
I felt the need to add a little silver. 
Had no idea how much fun silver/gold leafing something could be!!
(Shhh. Don't tell the original artist.)

So that is my plan.  A large abstract. I know I still need to come up with a composition, even if it is abstract. And a color scheme.  And it will have to move me if I am going to love it.

Wish me luck.    
And wish me some spare time.
That is totally in short supply around here.

Also...going to be traveling some the next few weeks.  Hopefully I can keep up with posting but no promises.  Had no idea this summer was going to be so crazeeeeee.

02 July 2014

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July!
(a day early...)


Here's to a wonderful Independence Day.
At our house there will be hot dogs, corn on the cob and watermelon.
Plus apple pie to top it all off. 
(WITH ice cream.)
The American flag will be flying from the front gate. 
And hopefully we can find some fireworks.


Enjoy your day.
We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.