Saturday, October 30, 2010

Birthday Celebrations!

What's the best way to celebrate a boy's 11th birthday?

Well, how about the circus? With an elephant carrying the American flag as we sing the National Anthem?
I know: Seven motorcycles riding around in a steel cage! Cool!
Tigers! Who doesn't love tigers?
Of course. A parade of elephants. What's not to love about elephants?
And then, after you get home, Birthday Cake! With an elephant on it! Even Mom can draw elephants; they always look like they're smiling. And an elephant with an upraised trunk is supposed to be good luck, right?
And then, my big sister can act silly! Her nursing school clinical practice supervisor's biggest criticism of her was that she is "too happy." Sheesh! Who doesn't want happy at a birthday party, or anywhere else, for that matter?
Notice that Thor is waiting for the food to fly, or at least the wrapping paper. And I wore my new pink birthday dress. We're all festive!

While I'm sure not everyone had as much fun as my little guy on his 11th birthday, Happy Weekend to all of you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch

Every year, when the spirit moves us, we take the kids to the pumpkin farm. The spirit moved us on Wednesday, because, although it was cloudy, it was 62 degrees - nearly unbelievably warm for late October. They had some handsome giant pumpkins on the front porch of the barn this year.

You can take the hay ride to the field to pick your own, but the boys wanted to just browse the ones behind the barn. I'm grateful that they did; it's always windy and cold on top of the hill. I'm also glad they didn't want one of the white or bluish pumpkins; they look kind of moldy to me.
The farm had mini pumpkins and gourds arrayed in this old sleigh. I'm glad we have enclosed, heated transportation in this day and age.
The rule is that you can have any pumpkin you can carry. Mark struggled a little with carrying a 20 pound pumpkin.

Ryan also chose a 20 pounder, and had no problem with it. Of course, he's a moose, isn't he?

Time to pay for these beauties, and then head home! Carving and pumpkin seeds may be on the agenda tonight or tomorrow! Happy Halloweening, everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thor Wants Food!

My new camera takes pictures must faster than the PHD ("Push here, dummy") style camera. So much so that here are the action shots when Thor was sniffing toward the plates being cleared, and I told him, "No." (It took maybe 3 seconds for all 3 pictures)

Ever the gentleman, he sat back and waited for his food to land in his bowl.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Food Delivery

For those of you who wondered what the restaurant supply house brings to my house about once a month, here's the refrigerators, pretty well stuffed:

Of course, there's an under bar fridge containing many gallons of milk next to our breakfast room table. You didn't need to see that, right?

This is most of my dry goods cupboard. I don't store flour in there; that's
in the fridge, because some years ago we had corn meal infest everything with disgusting little bugs. So now flour lives in the sealed environment where I know it's safe, until I take it out of the bag and put it in a canister (where it will spend only a few days before it's gone).

There's another cupboard containing crackers, tortillas, extra jars of peanut butter and whatnot, and this one over the stove, containing some of the pasta I bought (only 2 cases, because not many of us are home).

I didn't bother to hike to the laundry room and take a picture of the upright freezer containing a top round cut into steaks, the 2 eye rounds cut in halves for roasts, the chickens, the turkey breasts, or the 20 pounds of ground beef. Nor did I foray into the basement to photograph the shelves holding giant cans of fruit, smaller cans of tomato products and tuna, artichoke hearts, clams, coffee and whatnot, nor the chest freezer full of frozen veggies. You'll have to imagine them (and be happy that you don't have to put all this food away).

Thor's just happy when they get cooked! He enjoyed his fish florentine last night, and is looking forward to meatloaf and sour cream potatoes tonight; does anyone else think he's dreaming of chicken tomorrow night?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Cloudy Dawn

There's not much color in the sky just after dawn on a cloudy day, even facing east.

But the hydrangeas are really pink now.
And the oaks have some fine color, even as smaller trees cling to their greenery.

Monday, October 25, 2010

United Nations Day (Or Not)

Yesterday was United Nations Day. I'm about the only person in the world who knows that, because it's also my birthday. I made myself a new pink dress, but didn't get a picture of the dress. Oh, well, I'll wear it again for my baby's birthday next weekend, so maybe it will appear then.

All of my college and beyond kids called me yesterday; I spent more hours on the phone that day than I will between today and Thanksgiving. I'm so lucky that they like to call me!

The summer before my eighth birthday, my father took the family to Roger's Park
to visit their rose garden; we went there often, because it was pretty. But one weekend, he hung his Pentax 35mm camera around my neck, and told me I could take 24 pictures. And I did. In my mind's eye, I can still see them: single roses, shots through a line of arched trellises, asymmetric scatterings of the arches, and so on. I do not know if my father ever processed or printed those pictures, and I don't recall ever seeing them. But I knew then that I have little artistic ability (but a good eye), and photographs were my artistic calling. So for my 17th birthday, I bought myself a brand new Pentax K1000. It cost me $150 (at a time when babysitting paid $1 per hour, and minimum wage jobs paid $1.01 per hour). I used that camera until I had 2 kids, in 1985, when I bought a Pentax A3000. It wasn't necessarily better, but it had an autowinder, so I could shoot faster. (And, yes, I still have every camera I've ever owned, and they all still work.)

But I always wanted a Leica. That was the Rolls Royce of cameras. And in 1988, I found a used R4 for under $1000 (new ones were around $3000).
It took the best pictures I've ever taken, especially when used with Kodak Royal Gold film. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I shot about 75 rolls of film per year. There were a lot of great pictures, and plenty that were truly terrible, but that goes with taking photos of children, dogs, holidays and vacations, right?

In 1993, I was in Marv's Pawn Shop in Cheyenne, and found this beauty.

It was only $50 with the 1000 mm lens on it. I'm not going to lie; the body is rather beat up. The cover for the battery is missing, and someone welded a handle on the film winder. But the Canon AE was a workhorse, and that lens alone was worth a lot more than that. It is hard to use freehand, but I got some fun shots with it!

I've had 4 Kodak digital cameras. One is in my office, one is on loan to Ryan (whose camera disappeared this weekend), the gold one only shoots at 3.1MP, and the black one has been in use here for about 2 years. Nothing wrong with it, but I've been pining for a DSLR of late.
So I found a lovely Pentax K-X, which will use my old, manual lenses and filters, and I was sold. The magical internet fairy delivered one to my house, the little boys found and wrapped it, and so it appeared in my life yesterday. Now I'll have to learn to use all the fun features that go along with it. But mostly, I'll be in better control of my pictures again.

And best of all, my guys ordered Chinese food last night, so I didn't have to cook last night. And they ordered so much that I'm not cooking tonight, either!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thor's Groceries

I know no one believes that Thor doesn't think raw meat is real food. Here's proof, from our grocery delivery today.

See? That's clearly not real food. Someone needs to cook that roast beef.

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Your Dog an Optimist?

This question is raised courtesy of my daughter the 3rd year law student, who phoned last weekend, laughing about an article she read that week. It seems someone did a study of dogs, and determined that they can be optimistic or pessimistic. He based this upon observation of the dog and his food: if he checked his dish often, regardless of whether it was empty the last time he looked, then he is an optimist. If the dog sees his dish being filled, and doesn't bother to go check it out, he's a pessimist. (Did it not occur to this genius that the dog might just not be excited by Puppy Chow, and be holding out for a burger and fries?)

Thor is never fed from the table. No dog who's ever shared a house with me is, but especially not giant dogs, who, if permitted to be mannerless, will overrun the household.

That doesn't stop him from hoping, especially when Jeffrey brings home french fries for himself and his father.

Please? I haven't eaten in about an hour!

Oh, I hope Mom doesn't see this!

The last 2 cookies? They're not as good as fries, but they'll do!

See? Ever the optimist.

I thought you'd enjoy these pictures considerably than a shot of Thor's rump when he comes inside and promptly heads to his bowl to see if the magic food elf has put something in his dish other than those stinkin' Bites and Bones.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Butterscotch Brownies

For the first time, I'm having to make lunch box desserts: no mess, no frosting needed. It's proving to be challenging, because I've been a big fan of cakes with wonderful frostings. But here's my latest offering, which got 4 thumbs up from Jeffrey and Ryan!


1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Combine the butter with the brown sugar, beat in the egg, and then beat in the rest of the ingredients. Spread into a greased 8" square pan and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. See? Nearly as easy as cooking from a boxed mix! Thank you, Fannie Farmer (circa 1960).

And as you can see from my only photo, these were quite popular with the gents. This is what was left after lunches were packed and everyone had one for dessert. (Let's face it, the picture of an uncut brown blob in the pan wouldn't have been very exciting, anyway).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Color

Is there anything as pretty as a mpale tree bursting into its scarlet fall finery?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicken in a Bag

While out running an errand, I had to fill my gas guzzler. Since it was raining, I went to one of two full service stations in the area, and, while waiting for the tank to fill, I noticed a new sign on a building across the street: "PASTRIES." Well, who wouldn't want to investigate? If the pastries turned out to be Twinkies and Ring Dings, I could always just buy a diet coke and leave, right?

Well, the pastries were wonderful. I spent the rest of the weekend resisting the ur
ge to go drop another $20 there. My butt is happier because of it.
The pastries came in a plain, uninked paper bag. This led me to the perfect dinner idea:


1 Oven Stuffer Roaster, 5 to 7 pounds

1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, quartered

paper bag

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Let it stand for about 30 minutes.

Clean out the chicken. Put the onion quarters in the chicken, lay the bag down in your roasting pan, and put the chicken in the bag. Carefully reach in and spread the seasoning mix over the chicken, and close the bag tightly around the chicken. Place in the oven, and roast at 325F for 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours, depending upon the weight of the chicken, until the juices run clean when it's stabbed. If desired, rip the top off the bag during the last half hour of roasting so the bird will brown better.

I didn't get a picture of the chicken when I took it out of the bag, but you can see from the carved mess on my platter just how moist this was. There was barely enough left over for Jeffrey and Ryan to make their lunches for the next day, so it was clearly popular.
And served with sour cream potatoes and veggies, this was a very hearty meal, perfect for a chilly, rainy night!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Round and About: Virginia

Thanks to Diane in the UK and France for the title. I might have to use it now and again.

I really enjoy reading Diane's blog and seeing pictures she's taken "round and about" in France; it's fascinating to see other parts of the world. So, when the mood moves me, I'm going to try to show you a little of my area of the world. Fair warning: I don't get out much, so don't expect a lot.

When we were in Virginia last weekend, we wandered around the Piedmont area. To orient you, Washington, DC is about 100 miles north of Richmond, Virginia, and Albemarle County, which is in the Piedmont region of central Virginia, is about 100 miles west of Richmond. So these pictures are right in the middle of Virginia. All were taken through a car window, so if they're a little blurry, please accept my apologies.

First up: Black horse fence. There's a lot of horse fence around here, more white than black.

Next up: White horse fence. Which do you think is prettier? To me, this is all the prettier because it's the driveway entrance to someone's yard. It may be a horse estate or cattle farm, but wouldn't you just love to drive up this lane every day?
A relatively new industry around Charlottesville, Virginia is vineyards. Presumably they have a winery somewhere on the premises, although the signage didn't indicate it.
A different angle of the same vineyard. Actually, my dearly beloved believes this may be an old estate that belonged to a family he knew about a gazillion years ago, when he was in college. Of course, there were college aged daughters in that household. Why else would a college boy know a local family?
And there were cows. Plenty of them. But after the horse fence, doesn't the post and barbed wire fence look kind of ugly?
This concludes today's tour. I hope you all enjoyed it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Thorsday!

As you can see, Thor's staying near his people. Here he is, supervising Ryan's after school snack (he was rewarded with a peanut butter sandwich for his efforts).

Thor blocked Mark in his breakfast chair, doubtless so we couldn't go visit that Thomas Jefferson guy again.
What is it with visiting people who have been dead for 180 years anyway? Don't humans know that they should spend time with dogs? If old Mr. J. had a dog, it surely wasn't pub
licized. Thor needs to contemplate that.
Or, maybe Thor will just take a nap. This is a favored fall and spring spot, body on the hardwood, and head on the cool tile.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!